Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
Perhaps we kind of bristle at these words from Jesus. This is the opposite of how we usually feel. We want everybody to love us and accept us. We want to be liked. We want to be included. We want to be chosen. But we must be careful about seeking out the world’s approval. Taking a stand for God will often make us unpopular with the world around us. Being a Christian will cause some to hate us just because of that. We should expect no less from an evil world that is opposed to the things of God and His truths.
But the ways of God go against the normal, worldly way of thinking. He calls us blessed when others hate us because we love Him. He says we are blessed that people don’t want to be around us because we want to serve Him. He says we’re blessed that people would degrade us and oppose us as we seek to be accepted by Him. Because if what we’re doing bothers the worldly people around us, it must mean we’re doing something right for God.
It is not easy to be hated, but we’re not the first or only to be treated this way. God’s people have been opposed ever since Satan first walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. And, of course, Jesus Himself was hated by many in His day to the point of death. His followers were persecuted and cast out. And God knows about all the things we have to endure for His sake. He sees what being a follower of His can cost us. And He enables us to endure those things with joy, because it is always worth it to choose God’s way.
So in the midst of all of this, we have to make a very important decision whether we will seek God’s approval or man’s. We have to decide whether we would rather have the love and acceptance of people who oppose God or if we’d rather be hated by men than reject Him. We have to decide if we will follow Christ no matter the cost, no matter how it makes others feel about us or how they treat us because of it. We have to decide what is most important to us, and when we choose God and we choose His Son, He Himself will reward us for that. And no earthly prize or popularity could ever compare to the blessings of a life spent for Him.