…The royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself”…
The laws of God reflect the character of our King.
Though this is transparently true, James is stressing another point: that the law to love our neighbor as our selves is a king itself among other laws. All of the laws of men and of the decent social constraints in any given society have this concept behind them. If we would only consider the impact that our actions would have on others, if we would only afford them the same compassion, respect, and consideration that we give ourselves, then we would do no harm to others and instead promote their welfare.
This is not the negative form that other religions have. Many religions have the idea “do not do to others the things that you do not want done to you” or words to that affect. But this is a positive command: love your neighbor. It anticipates what Christ said, “As you would that men should do to you, do you even so unto them” (Matthew 7:12). Love is to be a positive force, not a passive one. I do not love my brother if I merely avoid harmful interaction with him and offer no positive interaction. Love means that I listen but also that I engage with him.
As a Boy Scout I learned the benefit of doing a “good deed” every day. I began keeping a record of my daily attempt at doing something kind for someone else. It would not be a bad idea for adults to do this as well. This week I challenge you to keep a record of daily good deeds for others. See how compassionate you are, how polite you are, how considerate you are of others.
Only one good deed per day is hardly enough, but it is a start. But as you obey this kingly law, remember to do it in such a way that you point people to the King Himself. As Christ said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Lord, teach us the benefit of discipline in seemingly small things that we might also be trusted with great things. Lead us toward a path of doing good deeds of love for others, just as You came not to be served but to serve and to give Your life as a ransom for many. Amen.