July 4

John 15:18-20 18"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

When Jesus was a child, he grew in favor with God and man. Early in His ministry, they wondered at the gracious words that came out of His mouth. In the last week they greeted Him like a king. But Jesus knew what was coming. He had seen it in His hometown. He had seen it after the feeding of the 5000. It happened each time He spoke a truth they did not want to hear. He knew the crowds would end up crying, "Crucify Him!" Their reaction was the same as their ancestors'. If the words were to their liking and they could personally gain something, they praised Him. But when He spoke the truth about prejudices and selfishness, they looked for reasons to believe He was not the One. Their unbelief turned to hatred. Not knowing the Father, they had only one agenda, self-promotion.

Children of God will meet the same reaction. People are attracted to anyone who expresses the fruits of the Spirit. They will speak favorably and act as a friend. The test comes when you must speak the truth to them. When you are an example of putting God first, the loyalty they thought you owed them comes into question. The more they probe, the less they like you until the one time "friend" turns to hatred. You never changed. Your loyalty was always to God first. They just found out you do not belong to the world. You don't have the same goals or values. Your opinion of sin in their life makes them furious.

Should we expect anything better? If they treated our example, our Master, this way then it is no wonder that the world treats us the same. There are children of God by grace, through faith in Jesus, and there are children of the world. We can love them, but they can only hate us. Pray that they become children of God just as we did.

Remember: When you are persecuted for righteousness sake, rejoice and be glad. Great is your reward in heaven.