If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
James is speaking about the “Royal Law” or better known as the “Law of Liberty,” or the “Law of Love.” This can be translated by what Jesus told us into a single statement, “Love God with all our hearts, all our souls and all our minds. And love our neighbor as ourselves.” The bottom line is we have been given a new supernatural love from God. A love which stems from a heart in love with the Lord. A love which is created in us because of our relationship with God restored through a genuine faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus told us that within the “Law of Love” we could sum up both the law and the prophets. In other words the fulfillment of the law and the prophets can be found in the perfect law of love as Jesus commanded us. What James is telling us is that our relationship with Jesus and the accompanied indwelling of the Holy Spirit changes us. Our new relationship with God naturally produces a love in us for God, a love for those around us and a love for those who are lost. In addition, our salvation produces a heart that naturally expresses itself in acts of kindness and charitable deeds.
Kindness to those around us and especially kindness and empathy for those in need. James goes on to explain to us that it is this love which is the bond of unity. And it ties together all the commandments of God. And our relationship with God, which was restored by our faith, produces in us a love for God and for the things of God. And because of that love His commandments are written on our hearts. This in turn produces a change in our character and in our day to day behavior. James explains it by asking us a rhetorical question. James’ question is, “what good is it to follow all aspects of the law, then transgress the law in one small area, thereby causing us to be breakers of the law.” What James means by this, is that showing partiality is not a trivial matter. Showing partiality is therefore a sin toward our neighbor. Because we are sinning against those whom we are called to love, it’s a sin toward God. It’s a sin against God, by whose grace and mercy we have been saved from the penalty of sin, which is death and eternal separation from God. Moreover, God did so when there was nothing in us deserving of salvation, therefore, how can we transgress against God by showing partiality.