They Hated Me First

They Hated Me First

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If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

Jesus Christ

We could say that Jesus was the original self improvement ‘guru’. It’s funny because whenever Jesus performed a miracle, the first thing he did was change a person’s heart or mind – not heal them of an affliction. Countless times in the Bible, Jesus would come across a lame man, or a blind man, or a mute, and he would look at them and they would beg him for healing.

But the first thing Jesus would do wasn’t heal – it was change their hearts, their minds. Instead of picking up the lame man off of the mat, when asked to be healed, Christ looked at the man and said, “Your sins are forgiven.” Now stick with me on this, I know you didn’t come here to be talked to about my faith, but there is a larger point.

Walking was important, sure, but walking wasn’t this man’s problem. This man’s problem, truly, was his mindset. He considered himself less important, less valuable. He was just a beggar. He was dirty, unclean, ugly, filthy – he was not a whole man and shouldn’t be treated as such.

The first thing Jesus did with this man was to make him whole in spirit. To make sure the man had the right mindset about himself. He wasn’t filthy, he wasn’t dirty, he wasn’t half a man. He was a whole man!

The teachers at the time looked at Jesus and all thought evil things of him, saying among themselves, “This man is blaspheming God!” The Pharisees – these ‘teachers‘ of the day – were just average men, and they knew they were. But they wanted everyone to think so highly of them. But then along comes this Jesus guy who is doing things they could never do – forgiving sins, changing hearts and minds, mending the sick and broken – and they get jealous.

So what do they do, in the face of change? They seek to destroy it.

If you’re trying to improve your life, if you’re trying to become a better person, know that there will be people in your family, among your friends, at work, who will simply not understand. There is nothing you can do to make them understand. They will simply hate you. But that is okay! Just remember: They hated Jesus, too, when he started leading by example and achieving greatness. I have family members that don’t like me and I’ve lost quite a few very close friends when I started my self improvement journey.

It is inevitable: They will not like you. Some people will be overt, and call you out for wasting your time or pursuing a pointless endeavor. Some will be more covert, they’ll laugh when you say you have to go to the gym and respond with something like, “OH that’s too much work for me! I’d rather eat cheetos!”

Yeah John, we know. We can tell by looking at you.

Do not let these people change your mind. Put your mind in the right place: You are a whole man who, through force of will and a careful application of effort, will achieve a whole and meaningful life. Your choices will steer you, your thoughts will determine your outcome. Do not let outsiders change your heart.

You’ll have a hard time understanding why people think your new gym membership is stupid. It will seem completely irrational because some people will actually disassociate themselves from you because you’re working out, or reading more! There will be people who, quite literally, hate you.

The reason they hate you? Because they realize that you are becoming a better person. That you’re doing the things they wish they could do. Let the hate roll off you. They have no power over you because they are weak men with weak minds and dark hearts. You are so much more.

So fight on, push through, and achieve your heart’s desires. Reach your goals, shatter them, and move on to greatness. Everyone else can piss off. History doesn’t remember the weak.

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