“So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.” James 2:12
There are two primary views regarding the human will in the world today. The first says that man is a slave. He is in bondage, shackled hand and foot, to the law. The second says that man is the master of his own actions, he is free , and the law has no dominion over him. Here in our verse, however, James tells us that there is a place of meeting for these two opposing views. He says the reason for this is that both assume something that is wrong. James says that both views see “freedom” as the opposite of being “bound.” That’s why he declares there is something called “the law of liberty,” a force whose essence is found in the power of the human will.
So, then, what is this unusual union of two things that seem so contrary to each other? It can be summed up in one simple word – love. Love is the only thing that is both free and bound at the same time. In fact, we often say of people in love that they are “captivated.” In other words, they are made a prisoner by their love. Yet, they are a prisoner by their own choosing, and they wouldn’t see that chain fall for anything in the world. To the one in love it is a golden chain. It is not a badge of his bondage, but rather of his endless boundaries. It represents the most free thing in his life, the desire of his heart.
My love is the hunger, the prayer, the desire of my heart. It is the most powerful possible exercise of my will. Nothing shows the strength of my will like my love. You see, my love is the strength of my self to go beyond my personal wishes or desires and take another’s as my own- to say, “I am yours and you are mine.”
James is correct, then, when he says that true love is the coming together of two complete opposites – liberty and law. Love is the most self-sacrificing, and the most self-asserting, of all things – all at the same time. It places its neck in the yoke. It becomes the servant of its object. It takes on another’s burden and carries the care of another. But, when my heart walks into that prison it becomes free for the first time. It closes the cuffs, yet begins to fly. It takes on heavy weights, and then takes wing. It yields to burdensome ties, but those ties become its treasure.
Love’s bonds are the beginning of its boundlessness. Every newly fashioned chain is a chariot. I flower by the forgetting of myself. I grow up by growing most underground. I come to the full bloom of summer when I have buried my self.
You see, the human heart can never know true freedom until it has first been mastered. It must be captured before it can every take flight. When my heart has no master it possesses no power or passion. It doesn’t desire to climb the mountain or soar to heaven. It doesn’t rise ready to meet the morning. It only lies in a solemn state of lethargy and death. But, when love comes, then my heart finds freedom.
When the Lord became the master of my heart it was then that I discovered the law of liberty. It was when I was captivated by His beauty, inspired by the touch of His presence, set aflame by the sense of His glory, that I discovered the meaning of freedom. You see, there is no force so strong as that of a subjugated heart, for His law of love is perfect liberty. That’s why I say glady, openly, freely say, “Be my heart’s ruler, Lord!”