I have a cold and my brain feels fuzzy but I am on vacation and can rest and sip chicken soup and cups of tea. I read and reread a passage from James because I am finding it hard to focus and process the words I am reading. At about the third reading the meaning sinks in fully and I reach for my pen...
James 2:8-9 (Amplified Bible)
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.(A)
9 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.
Favouring the rich over the poor is the opposite of the royal law, which is to love without discrimination of any sort. The verses that follow remind the reader that if we keep the whole law, but stumble at one point, we are guilty of breaking all of it.
With the law it is all or nothing, and since it can never be "all," we being human, fallible lawbreakers, then we are wiser to acknowledge our inability to play by those rules.
James builds on this point in verses 12-13 (New International Version)
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
Here James speaks of the royal law. Not the one of rules we cannot keep but a kinder, gentler law--one that gives freedom. In fact this law is no less demanding and we will be judged by it as we would have by the law of rules but by a different measure--how well did we love? How well did we show mercy?
With all my heart I want to follow this law that gives freedom, for it is far superior to the law that governs by regulations. But even this I cannot do without God softening and changing my heart.
Yet this he came to do.John 15:12 (New International Version)
12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.