I have something to confess. I've been reading through the book of James and, in several places, he talks about following the "royal law" (he only uses that phrase once, in James 2:8, but he also references it in James 4:11). The "royal law" is from Leviticus 19:18 - ". . . Love your neighbor as yourself . . . " It is also found in Matthew 22:36-40, where Jesus is asked what is the greatest commandment. He says it is "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." In Romans 13:8-10, Paul concludes that " . . . love is the fulfillment of the Law." I know this. I've read this before. I'm sure you have too. But for some reason, it really hit me today. My Study Bible, in reference to James 2:8, notes that the command to love your neighbor as yourself is called the royal law because ". . . it is the supreme law that is the source of all other laws governing human relationship. It is the summation of all such laws."
Here's my confession - usually, I kind of skip over that part about loving your neighbor as yourself. The part about loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, etc. - that makes me pause. But the loving your neighbor as yourself part? Honestly, I tend to write it off as cliche (ouch -- it's in the Bible, how could I think that?! Now you're seeing the real me!!!). But I've been studying a little lately about what the Bible means when it uses the word "love." Consider 1 Cor. 13 - love is patient, kind, doesn't envy, doesn't boast, isn't proud, isn't self-seeking or rude, doesn't keep a record of wrong . . . Love is active. It is fruitful. It does not fail. It is the only thing that will remain when all else passes away (referring to 1 Cor. 13:8-13). In the past, I tended to look at the command to "love your neighbor as yourself" as a command to think about how I would treat myself and then treat others that way. At other times, I've thought it meant that I must love myself if I am going to truly love my neighbor (I know, I know - where did I come up with that little gem?!). But it is saying so much more than those selfish things. We are to love other people fruitfully - and the fruit of that love should be patience, kindness, humility, forgiving (hmm, I think I've heard those things before). You truly can sum up all God wants us to do in those words: "LOVE your neighbor as yourself." The emphasis is on the love part.
Again, one of those things that might not be deep for anyone else but me - but I had to confess skimming over these verses up to this point!!!