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James 2.8-9 – If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
In the early 1970s there was only AM radio to keep me company on a weekly drive from the Mississippi Gulf Coast to New Orleans. I often listened to a late-night preacher over a mega-watt radio station located in Texas. His familiar slogan was, “You can’t lose with the stuff I use.” Whether, his “stuff” was any good or not was suspect, seeing that his “stuff” included sending him a donation. However, we really can’t lose with the “stuff” James and Jesus use – the royal law of love.
Loving our neighbors as ourselves is called the “royal law of love,” because it is an essential ingredient of God’s kingdom.
Jesus summarized all of God’s laws into two commands. He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22.37-40).
The “Stuff” That Works
The royal law of love – loving God with our whole heart and loving others as ourselves – works. First of all it works, because the greatest Being of All made the royal law of love the centerpiece of his activity. With poetic words, Rufus Moseley described his interaction with the True Lover, who gave us the royal law of love (From “Manifest Victory” by Rufus Moseley).
Moseley wrote, “Even the cross experience was a revelation of the law of His life, the law of love, that works by interchange, interaction and integration.
“Jesus showed me by my cross experience, that when He went to the cross on my behalf he went to a literal cruel cross of shame and suffering and death. When I went to the cross, it was to a cross of life, and bliss and glory.”
Note, the “cross” Moseley experienced is similar to ours. He was a very moral man throughout his life, but he was still dominated by his own best thinking that was separate from surrender to God. What he described as a “cross” experience was a surrender of his own best thinking to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Moseley wrote, “Jesus came out of glory into shame, out of life into death. I went out of the realm of shame and suffering and death into His realm of life and glory and honor.
“When He went to the cross, He was deserted by His disciples and seemingly by the Father. When I went to the cross, I was surrounded by the heavenly host and by my friends, and He Himself manifested Himself and came within.
“When He went to the cross He gave up divine breath. When I went to the cross I received the breath of the Holy Spirit.
“What Jesus did as a historical fact at Calvary, He is forever doing in the Spirit. He is initiating us into His own ministry of doing for others and with others what He did and continues to do for us.
“We are redeemed by the Redeemer to become redeemers. We are saved by the Savior to become saviors. We are transformed by the Transformer to be transformers. We are glorified by the Glorified One to bring others to glory.”
Moseley gave us a beautiful description of the Jesus-kind-of-life, and James calls us to live this life in love just as Jesus did.
I have met few people who didn’t want to go to heaven. In fact, I have been talking to people about God for over 50 years and I can’t recall anyone who wanted to live an eternity separate from God.
Once again, Rufus Moseley helps us think about heaven, hell and our life on earth. He wrote, “We claim that we want to go to heaven. What we really want is to become heavenly, so that heaven may come fully in us and in the whole earth” (From “Manifest Victory” by Rufus Moseley).
What is keeping us from living a heaven-on-earth kind of life? We could list several reasons, but a certain one is that we don’t live our lives by the royal law of love.
Think about it for a moment. If we don’t enjoy loving God and other people now, what makes us think we will love them when we get to heaven? If we don’t appreciate the value of walking and talking with God now, what makes us think we will somehow enjoy taking a stroll with God by the heavenly river of life? If our brief experience of life on earth is preparation for heaven, shouldn’t we be getting better acquainted with the royal law of love right now?
The Royal Law of Love Works
Chapter 2 of James makes it clear that the royal law of love works. On the other hand, if we fail to live by love, and “show partiality, we are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2.9). I learned the meaning of both aspects of James’ words during high school and the summer after I graduated.
Like most people, I wanted to be accepted in high school, but I spent most of my time on the fringes. My father was an attorney and a respected politician. I was supposed to be part of the “in crowd” in our relatively small city, but I wasn’t. I distinctly remember one school day walking up to a group of the “in crowd” students, who were circled together talking before classes started. I stood at the outside of the circle, hoping they would widen the circle and let me into their group. They didn’t.
When I was in high school, South Cape Girardeau was like western Independence. One year, I found myself in a gym class filled with South Cape boys. At that time, I was a massive 6’2″ tall and a whopping 150 pounds. I was skinny, weak and scared of the guys in the class. One day, some of the fellas in the class tackled me on a wrestling mat and were about to rough me up, when Paul came running by and literally knocked them off of me. I was relieved and have never forgotten that moment, even though I can’t remember Paul’s last name.
Graduation came and I took my diploma, put it under my arm, ran from the school and never returned. The summer after graduation, Butch Roll and his family persuaded me to come to church with them. On a Friday night church meeting, Jesus Christ became real to me and we began what has been a life-long friendship.
The next Sunday, I attended Southside Baptist Church (yes, it was in South Cape) with the Roll family. I have no idea what the pastor said, but I will never forget three men who came to welcome me to their church. One was a butcher who worked at the local packing plant and another worked in a lumber yard and nearly crushed my hand. The third man had no hands, but grasped my hand between two of his stubs. I also discovered that Paul, the young man who rescued me in gym class, also attended Southside Baptist Church.
The royal law of love works. Butch Roll, Paul, three men, and Jesus teamed up on me to lead to the best life possible. The treated me like they wanted to be treated themselves. Had they closed the circle of their kindness and kept me on the outside, I wonder where I would be now. Praise God, they didn’t.
The royal law of love begins with a friendship relationship with God. Let’s go back and review Rufus Moseley’s meditation on God’s love. Let’s praise God for his love and seek to experience it more deeply.
Also, please about your circle of friends. Who is on the outside and would like for your circle to be expanded to include them? Who can you invite to a meeting, like Butch Roll did for me?
Dear Jesus, we are profoundly grateful for your love. We are also grateful for the people in our lives, who have helped us experience your love in a deeper measure. We pray that we all experience your love more deeply and extend it more frequently to others.