As a sinner a person makes decisions to do wrong and he lives with the consequences of those decisions. When he becomes a Christian, he makes decisions to do right and he has to live with what others think about his decision.

Jesus warned that every Christian will be persecuted. “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). People lied about Jesus. They called him names. They made fun of Him. Why should we be surprised when we are harassed and hated for Christ and His Word?

The world does not understand Christians and many of them refuse to listen. Instead of having an open mind, they criticize and unfairly accuse. No Christian should think he can be popular with the world. They do not think like we do. They have different values and priorities. They go by a different standard. We can be civil with them, but we cannot be popular. “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (John 3:13).

It is hard to be around someone who hates you. Once a person becomes bitter and hateful, there is no pleasing him. You can change everything about yourself that he criticizes, and he will just find something else about you to criticize. It does not have to be true. A spiteful person will make up things. Jesus did no wrong to the Jews, yet some of them hated Him and spread vicious rumors about Him (Matt. 11:19; John 8:41).

A bitter person thinks others are the problem. He blames everybody else for his unhappiness. Even if people around him try to please him, they can never do enough. This selfish attitude spills over into every area of life. He cannot find a congregation that suits him. He can never get a job he likes. He is unhappy with his family and his community. Until he admits his heart is the problem and repents, he will only become worse.

It is hard to live in a world with people like this, but we must. It is difficult to keep a right attitude, but it can be done. When you are angry at someone, make sure you have a right to be angry — a biblical right (Matt. 5:22). Be careful about holding on to anger. If you stay mad and keep rehearsing things in your mind, you open the door to Satan (Eph. 4:26-27). Remember also Paul’s words, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:20-21). Above all, be thankful, not ashamed, when you suffer for Jesus. “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 like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).

-Kerry Duke

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