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Date: October 29

Category: Godly Character

James 2:8
"If indeed you [really] fulfill the royal Law in accordance with the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as [you love] yourself, you do well."

Slobodan & Ljiljana KrstevskiIn this verse, we read the term, "the royal law," which could also mean "the golden rule." That royal law is "You shall love your neighbor as [you love] yourself." In other words, you should be expressing "agape" love to others as you would express love to yourself. When you and I become born-again believers, then we have to become more loving people. Every year that goes by as we develop more and more as Christians, we should become more and more loving. In other words, Jesus Christ within us has to become more evident through us by the love that we show.

In this chapter, we can read that James addresses the issue of favoritism that the church people had. In verses 1-3 we read that some of the people who were coming to church had splendid apparel, while others had shabby clothes. When the rich people came in, they were seated in more honorable places because they were more recognizable. But when a poor person came into the church, he would often have to stand or sit on the floor. So during this time, the people were discriminating one another based on wealth.

So in verse 5 James corrects the people, "Listen, my beloved brethren: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and in their position as believers and to inherit the kingdom which He has promised to those who love Him?" Then in verse 8 he says that if they were really fulfilling the royal law in accordance to the Scriptures, then they will love their neighbor as they love themselves. When they do so, then they have done well.

You may ask yourself, "Who is my neighbor?" Well think back to when Jesus taught about a certain man who went from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among robbers. The robbers stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and left him half dead (Luke 10:30). A priest walked by but he didn't stop to help the man (verse 31). Then a Levite walked by and he didn't stop to help either (verse 32). But then a certain Samaritan saw the man and had pity and sympathy for him so he brought him to his inn and took care of him (verses 33-34). Then in Luke 10:36 Jesus asked, "Which of these three do you think proved himself a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?" Well it was the Samaritan who saw the man in need and stopped to help him. He was the one who proved himself a true neighbor. Then Jesus says in verse 37b, "Go and do likewise."

So when you and I show mercy and kindness towards others, then we prove ourselves to be neighbors to them. That's what the golden rule is all about. That's what James teaches us here in James 2:8. We shouldn't show partiality among one another. We shouldn't favor one brother over another. Actually in verse 9 James writes, "But if you show servile regard (prejudice, favoritism) for people, you commit sin and are rebuked and convicted by the Law as violators and offenders." So it's a sin to show favoritism. Then in verse 10 we read, "For whosoever keeps the Law [as a] whole but stumbles and offends in one [single instance] has become guilty of [breaking] all of it." So according to James, if we commit one sin, then we have transgressed against the whole law.

So then in verse 12 we read, "So speak and so act as [people should] who are to be judged under the law of liberty [the moral instruction given by Christ, especially about love]." In other words, the teaching of the love that God gave us through Christ should be the moral judgment by which we judge ourselves. So before you do anything, you are to ask yourself if those actions are going to express the love of Christ to others. Everything we say and do should be done in love. If there are things that we would not like others to do to us, then we shouldn't do those things to others. If there are things that we would like others to do for us, then we should do those things for someone else. When we do that, then we've done well.

Finally we read in verse 17, "So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead)." So our faith in Jesus Christ by itself is useless if it is not backed up by good deeds of love. In Galatians 5:6 we read, "For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision or uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith activated and energized and expressed in working through love." In other words, the only way faith works is through the love of God that we have towards other people. So let us be people who really prove ourselves to be neighbors and let us show others the love of Christ within us.

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Devotionals Categories

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