Jas 2:8-10 “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
God is Sovereign. He is the God and Father or our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Holy Spirit that dwells in us and motivates us to a service of love with understanding. As the Sovereign God, who is King and Judge over all, His law is royal as befits His character. According to the scripture, we can fulfill His royal law. The specific law in question is simple and straightforward; love your neighbor like you love yourself.
If I would not expect if of myself, then I should not expect it of others. If I would not condemn myself for the action, then I should not condemn others. If I would want to receive mercy I should expect to show mercy to others. If I would want love, then I should love others. Whatever actions, words, or leniencies I would like to have shown to me, I should show to others. This is not merely a suggestion; this is the royal law of Almighty God. Jesus said it was like unto the first and great commandment which is “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Mat 22:37).”
We don’t seem to have too much trouble grasping the meaning of this first and great commandment. How well do we do in recognizing that Jesus said loving our neighbor as ourselves is like this first and great commandment? If we do not love our neighbor as ourselves according to the scripture, then I am persuaded that we do not love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. When we have respect of persons, we manifest that we do not love our neighbor as ourselves.
We are not doing well when we have respect of persons. The scripture plainly says that when we do so, we commit sin. This is not an “I didn’t know” situation. We are actively involved in sin when we have respect of persons. This is not a “little” sin that can be overlooked or explained away. We are convicted by the royal law of God as transgressors. We are guilty of violating the law of God.
Our tendency is to take the attitude “Well, it’s not like I killed somebody,” but when we violate the royal law it is exactly like that. We can do everything to perfection and transgress in one point of the royal law and we are guilty of it all. God’s holy commandments are not disjointed pieces but different aspects of a complete whole. If we are going to lean on the law (as the early Christian Jews sometimes tried to do), then we are going to have to realize that we can’t pick and choose which laws we want to keep. Either we keep them all or else we are in violation of them all.
What if we actually kept the whole law of God? Surely that would count for something. We could pat ourselves on the back just a little, couldn’t we? Actually, no! Jesus told His disciples “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do (Luk 17:10).” I cannot honestly say that I have ever done “all those things which are commanded.” Therefore, I am less than an unprofitable servant when I am trusting in my own strength.
The bottom line is this: I cannot do the first and great commandment unless God grants me grace and strength. I cannot do the second, which is like unto the first, unless God grants me grace and strength. I cannot do any of His royal law without His grace and strength. Since I am not greater than my Master (Jesus), when I am able to keep God’s royal law, I must also confess that it is not me, but “the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works (Joh 14:10).” Loving our neighbor as ourselves is about honoring God.
May we have the grace to know that we have no goodness in ourselves that we can cling to and the peace to know that Jesus is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes (Rom 10:4)!