Then the writer compares these believers with the world—“of whom the world was not worthy” (v. 38). The word “world” (kosmos) refers to people who resist God (v. 7). They oppose the will of God. They do not obey God.
This world is not worthy of these suffering believers. The adjective “worthy” (axios) means “having a relatively high degree of comparable merit or worth–‘worthy.’” (Louw-Nida) It is a word that describes one’s worth, value, or merit as compared to another. The writer uses the same word in Heb. 3:3, “For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses.” Hence, the writer seems to be saying, “of whom the world was not having worth, merit, or value.” The NIV translates it, “the world was not worthy of them.” The world was unworthy of the believers. It is ironic. The world did not see value in these believers—afflicting and maltreating them. Yet the world is unworthy of the believers. These faithful believers were more worthy than the world. (Brooke Westcott)
God saw these faithful believers as more worthy than the world. Why is that? They lived by faith. Because they lived by faith, they pleased God. Because they pleased God, God commended them. God counted them worthy of honor.
An old missionary couple had been working in Africa for years, and they were returning to New York City to retire. . . They discovered they were booked on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions.
No one paid much attention to them. They watched the fanfare that accompanied the President’s entourage, with passengers trying to catch a glimpse of the great man.
As the ship moved across the ocean, the old missionary said to his wife, “Something is wrong. Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and have no one care a thing about us? Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody gives two hoots about us.”
. . . .
That night, the man’s spirit broke. He said to his wife, “I can’t take this; God is not treating us fairly.”
His wife replied, “Why don’t you go into the bedroom and tell that to the Lord?”
A short time later he came out from the bedroom, but now his face was completely different. His wife asked, “Dear, what happened?”
“The Lord settled it with me,” he said. “I told him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, ‘But you’re not home yet!’”
If you live by faith, the world is unworthy of you. God counts you as more worthy than the whole world. You are more worthy than the Presidents of the nations of this world. You are more worthy than the rich and famous of this world. You are more worthy than the most admired people of this world.
If you live by faith, God honors you. God commends you. God considers you worthy of His respect and admiration. God counts you worthy to share in His glory.
 Ray Stedman, From Talking To My Father (Barbour & Co. 1997), ____.