If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. [James 2:8-9]
These verses highlight yet another important character in our walk of faith: others’ centered relationships, i.e., “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But James also points out how difficult this is to do, “but if you show partiality,…”
I emphasized the word “walk” in regard to faith because that is a fundamental theme of James. “Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” [James 2:18] We will get to that verse next week but these verses lead up to it. The point is that it is not enough to have the words of faith; we must have works [the walk] as well.
Remember when Jesus was asked by one of the religious leaders, “what is the greatest commandment in the law?” [Matt 22:36] Here was His answer:
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” [Matt 22:37-40; emphasis added].
Notice that James in 2:8 simply quotes his Lord [“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”], and called this the “royal law”; a fitting name because it is the supreme law for human relationships. If every person followed this royal law the world would experience true peace. But the problem is highlighted in James 2:9, “but if you show partiality,…” Unfortunately there is a lot of partiality in this world, and even within the church.
The remedy is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” You see, exercising this first command is the catalyst for the second, the royal law, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The works of others’-centered faith are an overflow of loving God. Do you see the order? The spiritual fruit in faith come by remaining in the Vine, that place where we love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.