Hate Is a Strong Word

“So don't be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.”—1 John 3:13 (NLT)

“Hate is a strong word!” I’m sure you’ve heard this expression before; in fact, you may have said it, and with good reason. We all know how strong hate can be because we’ve all felt it at some point. I’ll admit I occasionally say things like, “I hate traffic” or “I hate doing dishes.” These things incite a strongly negative, visceral reaction in me. And I’ve created very rational arguments in my head as to why I’m justified in my hatred.

I’m sure you have a few things you hate, too, and you may have rationalized why you’re validated. Well, you and I are not the only ones. In today’s verse, the apostle John tells believers “don't be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” In the verses leading up, John had referenced the fact that Cain hated Abel without reason, aside from the fact that Cain’s deeds were evil and his brother’s were good.

Likewise, he explains that we should expect the world to hate us. Why? John Gill explains, “For no other reason, but because they (believers) are chosen and called out of the world, and do not live the wicked life they do: and this hatred of theirs is not at all to be wondered at; so it was from the beginning, and has been in all ages since.”

The truth is, a real and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ and His people changes you. It cultivates peace, purpose, satisfaction, compassion, joy, and love in you. It allows you to endure the darkest moments and greatest trials. It teaches you, like Paul says in Philippians 4:12 (NIV) to be “content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” True Christ-followers stand out because they constantly shine the light of Jesus, whom the world hated first (Matthew 10:22; John 15:18, 17:14). So, they hate us because “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV).

So, why is it important to understand this? To know that no matter how hard we try to be relevant, to fit in, to embrace the world and its culture, if we’re in Christ, we will be hated. I believe John wrote this to show us just how important strong friendship and community among Christians is, because we won’t find it in a world that hates us. 

DIG: Read 1 Corinthians 1–2, John 15 and 17, and 1 John 3.

DISCOVER: What do you hate? Why? Do you hate the things God hates or do you hate things you don’t understand? 

DISPLAY: Spend time praying for those who hate believers, that the Lord would speak to them and reveal His love and grace to them!

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.