“But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).
The supposed legalism of James is completely set aside by one word: liberty. The law of liberty is that which is needed to complete us. We are free to do as we please. However, if we are in the Lord, then we will do what is pleasing to Him because of the love that transforms us and reigns in our hearts. The one who hears and does not abide by it neither loves, nor lives in liberty, but is still in rebellion.
Lord, the struggle still goes on inside of me. Help me to understand that You have come and set me free. Truly free. Lead me in the liberty which is mine so that I would now and forever be guided by Your love and Your goodness. Help me to live in Your love, in order that I would do all in the command You have given us to love all our neighbors. Lead me where I need to go so that I may be blessed in You.
Lord Jesus, You have come to set us free from the law which has condemned the sin in me. You have perfectly atoned for me so that I would live in the liberty which is mine through You that I may do what is right and good. Lead me, O Lord, in the way of righteousness and help me be one who does what You ask me to do. Guide me now and always in the way of everlasting life in You. Amen.
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This verse, James 1:25, if we take it in the
context of the passage beginning with
verse 19 and ending with 27, is, for me,
deeply convicting as much as it is liberating.
The perennial debate about faith versus works
seems to me to be moot; we can all agree that
the liberation of the gospel of Jesus Christ compels us
to realize our need for the integration of the two. I am
often convicted about how much I seem to lack both. What I
hear from God’s word I don’t do, so what I do
becomes more of my religiosity in service of
my delusion. I worked with inmates in prison for 30 years
This was I believe faithful work, but the
the biblical lesson here for me is about recognizing my faithlessness
in neglecting the calling of our God to stewardship.
This strikes at the heart of Luther’s understanding of law and Gospel. Bonhoffer’s “Cost of Discipleship” is all about what you have indicated. Later, James will encourage us to show our faith through our works (neither of which are meritorious. If we are in relationship with our Savior, the Triune Lord of all, He will work in us that which leads to faithfulness. Those who live by faith (Phil. 2:12) know that God the Savior, by the power of God the Holy Spirit, leading us to God the Father will complete the good work He has begun in us. We try to wrestle the verbs out of God’s hands. Sometimes, like Jacob, the Lord must leave a permanent reminder. You’re on to the conundrum of the faithful!