Journeying through James 1:25 – Living Under the Law of Love

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
James 1:24 (NIV)

In this verse, James refers to a something he terms the “perfect law.” When most people think of laws, they think of rules that they must obey. The Oxford Advanced American Dictionary defines law as: “a system of rules. the law [uncountable] the whole system of rules that everyone in a country or society must obey.” Is James using the word “law” in an unusual way, with a broader perspective in mind?

Law also has to do with your identity. An American, for example, is not subject to British law, nor is a Brit to American law. Every country has rules and laws along with leaders and people under them that enforce them.

Is there a leader that every human being is subject to? The answer is yes: “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” And the highest law in Christ’s kingdom is love…“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 1:5-6, NLT).

He says, “look intently” into this perfect law, which is one word in Greek meaning: ‘to look into something by stooping down’. It’s the exact same Greek word used to describe John’s actions when John ran with Peter to Jesus’ empty tomb. John “reached the tomb first. 5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there” (John 20:4-5, NLT). The word is used again with Mary “standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in.” We stoop down in humility to consider that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NIV). And as it says in another place: “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14, NIV).

If you consider John and Mary mentioned in the verses above as well as James himself, the brother of Jesus, weren’t their lives transformed and changed by what they saw? We have different pictures of Jesus Christ in the Word of God. We see him at a wedding, in the temple as a child, we see him showing compassion, teaching on the lake, feeding those who were hungry and offering water to a woman at a well. We see Jesus healing and forgiving, we see him at his baptism, we see him weeping in sorrow, and showing his power over death and hell. Excellent pictures come to my mind when I think of the life of Christ. I see pictures of love, holiness, God’s glory, and God’s wisdom. This is what God has called you to be. The book of James itself (and the whole Bible too) gives us a picture of what it means to live as citizens under this “perfect law,” as good citizens of the Kingdom of God.