James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
James chapter two is all about the subject of loving those in great need, an outgrowth of James 1:27 where they are encouraged visit (help) the widows and orphans who cannot defend themselves. He begins by pointing out their acceptance of people based on outward appearance or what they can give (2:1-3) therefore taking the place of judgment instead of God (2:4) and choosing to disrespect the very things the Lord loves to use for His glory (2:5).
Realizing that Christian would defend themselves by saying “oh I treat everyone with respect” James explains that the Law of Love (Matthew 22:37-39) is just like the OT Jewish law that demanded complete obedience. And the person who breaks one part of the law (lying) in the eyes of God it’s just as if he had broken every one.
It’s interesting that James connects this command to love with the Mosaic law because the ten-commandments were never meant to be kept in the first place. Their purpose was to show our failure to live up to God’s standard of Holiness. The Old Testament could be summed up with the words “God will send a Redeemer, and you aren’t him.
While James is speaking to our inability to love in a way God desires on our own, I believe he uses this verse to confront many believers (particularly Jewish ones) who wouldn’t accept certain people groups.
Jewish Christians were well-known for accepting a Gentile (non Jew) only after they became a proselyte which included circumcision, and adopting the Jewish way of life. The Jews claimed to love everybody but James pointed out there was at least one people group (Gentiles) they definitely didn’t love.
The application for Christians in this verse is clear…we must love all people.
- Not just the nice ones,
- or the ones who agree with us,
- or respect our opinion,
- but the ones who treat us like garbage
- and think they are better than everyone else
- or attack our beliefs
- The moment we treat someone in a selfish or angry way the law of love is broken
This brings me back to the idea that this law of love wasn’t meant to be obeyed in the first place, as least not in our own strength. Instead it should lead us towards a God who can give us the strength to love those who hate or abuse us.
So instead of trying to keep the law of love (and failing) let’s focus on a relationship of dependence upon God. For it is only then that His love can flow through us.