Thursday of Easter IV – I John 3:16-24

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 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? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

“I won’t be a hypocrite!” The words were spit out at the old man. Clearly the young man thought that the old man was indeed a hypocrite. The elder thought about this for a moment. He remembered when he had said words very similar to member of the preceding generation, just about 30 years before this young man had said this to him. He had spoken them to his father. He regretted them now. Wished that his father were still alive to talk again about how foolish he had been.

He sighed and tried once more. “Loving someone who has hurt you is not hypocrisy. In fact, only loving people for whom you feel love is nothing other than self-interest and self-service. True love is showing kindness and mercy to the folks who do not deserve it.”

This is a truth which every person must learn at some time. While feelings are strong, they are not reality. There are people for whom I feel some truly terrible things. Some of them may even deserve what I feel. But they are God’s beloved people too. Jesus died for them just as much as he died for me. That is reality. Jesus on a cross, bleeding, dying, for the sins of the world. True love will mean that if they are hungry, I feed them. If they are lonely, I will sit with them for a while. If they are hurting, I comfort them. That is not hypocrisy. That is love. I cannot gin up the nice feelings I would like to have for people. God does not ask me to. He commands me to love, that is serve and attend to the needs of my neighbor, no matter how I feel about it. Love is an action I take, a real thing, a thing done in truth and in deeds. It does not always feel good. Do it anyway.

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