“But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out—he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25, NET).
Yesterday we talked about training our spiritual senses by practice. Here we have another verse that encourages us in this direction. Our brother James exhorts us to use our spiritual eyes to “peer” into God’s law. Here’s another translation: “whoever looks intently into…” (NIV). And another: “those who set their gaze deeply into” (TPT). To peer, to look intently, to set our gaze deeply… these descriptors instruct us on the use of our hearts’ eyes. Clearly, Holy Spirit wants us to exercise them with focused effort.
James also tells us what not to do with our spiritual eyes. We find this in the previous two verses. “…It is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like” (vv. 23-24, NLT). Glancing. Barely looking. Inattention. Heedlessness. Distraction. Absence of mind. Indifference. These are the ways not to conduct ourselves… if we are longing for His freedom in our lives. He is teaching us that gazing and fixing our attention on His law brings both liberty… and blessing in everything that we do.
So let’s think for a moment about that phrase, “the perfect law of liberty,” that we are to rivet our eyes on. What is that? The next chapter has another name for it: “the royal law of love” (James 2:8, TPT). Daddy God wants us fixating on His law of love. If His love is consuming us; if it is governing our hearts, then we are truly free. Freedom to love Him with all that we are, and to love others deeply, is the mark of true liberty.
Jesus Himself taught us this. When an expert in the law questioned Him about the subject, He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ All the law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commands” (Matt. 22:37-40, NCV). All the law! The sum total of everything God wants for us boils down to this: loving. And this is what He calls us to fixate on.
As we gaze intently into this royal law of love, it changes us. Daddy’s covenant promise comes to life inside of us: “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Heb. 8:10, NIV). Inscribed on our hearts, His law of love alters our very DNA. It transforms us. It makes us like the One who gave His life for us. It sets us gloriously free.
The world teaches that “freedom” means being able to do whatever we want. How does God’s definition of liberty differ?