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The Royal Law

October 30th, 2010

…The royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself”…

James 2:8


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.




Evening Devotionals

Leaning toward Mercy

October 29th, 2010

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom…

James 2:12


We have a tendency to see justice and mercy as polar opposites, conflicting in thought and nature. Judgment demands punishment of the guilty and mercy demands the forgiveness of the guilty. Whereas in some aspects mercy and justice are opposites, in the mind of God they are complimentary, because God is not divided in thinking.


The verse above, in an almost contradictory way, illustrates the agreement between justice and mercy. Though he speaks about being judged by the law, the context shows that in this phrase he is referring to the mercy of God directed toward the sinner. Is this the law? Is it the intent of the law to provide mercy?


The goal of James is to reveal the gracious and merciful heart of God, our Lawgiver. That in the Old Testament laws – consisting of moral laws, ceremonial laws, and political laws – not only is found the clear insistence on righteousness, but also the mercy of God. Consider these passages:


Exodus 22:21: Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan.


Leviticus 19:9-10: When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien…


Micah 6:8: He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.


Lamentations 3:22-23: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.


The law revealed the nature of God and though that nature consists of both justice and mercy, it leans toward mercy. In this sense the gospel is not a contradiction to the Old Testament, but its fulfillment. The law of God is merciful – providing for our world a better place to live and a kinder people to live among. We are judged by the God of mercy who is also the God of justice, and in Christ these two meet perfectly. He exercised mercy by dying in our stead, satisfying the justice of God. So obedience to the law of God after salvation also leads us to uphold His merciful nature. As believers in Christ He is now writing His law upon our hearts and mercy is imprinted into our new Christian character.




Lord, teach us to love and to obey. Let Your righteousness and Your mercy indwell within our hearts and show themselves through our thoughts and actions. Amen.

Evening Devotionals