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. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.1 John 3:12-15
If you’ve heard or read the original account of Cain’s murder of his brother in Genesis, you’ve read how God counseled Cain –
The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”Genesis 4:6-7
What was the sin “crouching at the door” of Cain’s heart? John tells us that Cain hated his brother’s righteousness before God.
And so John reminds his readers (and us) that we should never be surprised when the world (the larger culture around us) hates us. It has grown more and more evident in recent years that while we, as followers of Christ, take a stand for righteousness, our desire for what honors God is more than unpopular, we are often hated.
Again, we should not be surprised, but how do we respond? John gives us clear direction –
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.1 John 3:16-18