"For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you." - 1 John 3:11-13
We all want to be loved. We want to be liked. We want the approval of the people around us. This craving seems to be a part of being human; it seems that God wired us this way.
Children want the approval of their parents. Brothers and sisters want to be liked by their siblings and if we grow up without that approval it hurts at a deep level.
Beyond the family we form groups, clubs and associations of people who approve of each other.
The “peer pressure” in such groups can be turned into something very positive, inspiring us to do good things as we express approval of the good things others do. Service clubs like Rotary, Lions, and Kiwanis work this way.
It can also be turned into something really horrible if the members of the group give approval and encouragement to bad behavior. Street gangs and other criminal organizations work this way. We will do almost anything to be liked and approved of by others.
The devil has been tempting people for thousands of years and he is an expert at human psychology. He uses our desire for approval to tempt us. The Bible says, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” (James 1:14) The World, allied with the devil to oppose our salvation, approves bad behavior and scathingly criticizes, discourages, and whenever it can, even punishes good behavior. The World naturally hates those who want to do good.
So “Don’t be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” That’s to be expected. Ignore it. Seek God’s approval. Surround yourself with godly people who will encourage you to do good things.
Lord, I’m way too sensitive to the approval of men. Forgive my tendency to want people to like me and fail to seek Your approval. Give me godly Christian friends who will encourage me in Your will, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Dan Giles