What Is the Law of Liberty?
James 2 says: 8 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. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
When it comes to our words, we want to finish strong. Elegance in our speech triumphs over being unrefined. Unrefined is always a project to be solved. No NFL draft pick wants to stay as unrefined talent and no NFL team wants a pick to become a pile of wasted and continually unrefined talent. That’s a bust of a pick.
The same goes for our words and conversations. When they stay unrefined, whatever potential they might lead to become a continual bust. All the promise others see in us or we see in ourselves becomes wasted talent.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to finding elegance in our speech is our partiality. Not everyone is plagued by it, but it has the potential to creep up when we least expect it. When we become disenchanted with our lives or the situations around us, we can become partial by finding a scapegoat. External pressures are always easiest to scorn because, from a big picture perspective, there seems to be nothing we can do about them. But, we can always blame them as we see them trickling down to disrupt our circumstances.
Partiality is often thought of (and James discusses this in the first few verses of chapter 2) in strictly rich/poor delineations. But the reality is that partiality can creep into most any situation. Vegans can show partiality. Motorcycle enthusiasts or bikers can show partiality. And, unfortunately, cheerleaders and jocks can show partiality. No one is immune from the instinct to be partial.
Continual partiality in our speech is a sign of being unrefined. When it’s always someone else’s fault, or at least a good percentage of the time, only a certain group of people that agree with us will see us as elegant. The vast masses will not. We all have a choice on how we look at the world; which vision will we have? And how will we be remembered?
In comes the Law of Liberty. When you are partial, you betray your judgment over someone else’s condition. The Law of Liberty says: I should treat someone as I would wish to be treated by God. In God’s society, God is the great reconciler, not the great divider. He seeks for all people to come together to celebrate His Gospel and to live in obedience to it. If we are busy being partial about everything, how can we embrace the Gospel for the good of humanity? If we’re busy being about the business of separation, how are others able to receive Jesus Christ? Are we interfering with the spiritual growth of others because we’re so busy worrying about how what they’re doing is impacting us? Can’t the Gospel be shared and enjoyed together instead of the exclusivity by which many people choose to govern their spiritual development?
The Law of Liberty reminds us that mercy always triumphs over judgment because mercy is the great reconciler. Mercy is always the business about which God concerns Himself. He seeks to be the healer for what hurts our world. He created us to enjoy the peace that He brings. He created this universe and this world for the pleasure of His created children. If we are busy, either consciously or unconsciously, considering how we can be more partial, then we will never realize the fullness of God’s good pleasure for us. We will never realize how fully the Gospel unites the human condition in a moment of grace. Grace from our healing Savior Jesus must be given a space to triumph in our circumstances.
Think about how you can institute the Law of Liberty in your life this week, especially where its message has been lost. Amen.