Skip to main content

EBS79: Fulfilling The Royal Law

Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #79

Delivered by Eric Butterworth on September 16, 1975

Download the PDF for Fulfilling The Royal Law

Return to Eric Butterworth Speaks

Some years ago there was a widely-read book, In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon. It was based on the theme, “What would Jesus do?” Naive and simplistic, perhaps; but the great strength of Jesus’ teaching lies in its power to challenge persons to release their inner potentialities. It has been said that we all need someone to make us do what we can do. This is what Jesus did with those He taught and helped. And, if we are willing, His teachings can do the same for us today.

It is easy to see where Jesus stood on the matter of love, for “Love one another” occurs more frequently than any of His other statements in the Gospels. Why did Jesus give such emphasis to love? Was He dealing with a command of God, or with a moral code for behavior? Neither one. He said, “And we know and have believed that love which God had in us; God is love, and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him.” In other words, whenever love dwells in our hearts, to that degree we become a part of the divine heart of God.

Normally when we think of love we think of the emotion we feel for another. We love certain persons, while there are others who we do not and cannot love. This is perfectly normal in a human sense, but Jesus gives us a new insight. He suggests that love is not the plaything of human volition but the action of divine law. He says, “Ye have heart it said that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy, but I say unto you, love your enemies and pray for them that persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father who art in heaven.” James calls this the “Royal Law.” Love your neighbor, not because he is especially deserving of your love, but because when he causes you to resist, you are not acting the part of your divinity...and the power that goves with your divinity is yours only when you act the part.

Paul says, “As many as are led by the spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” Sonship is a potential that becomes real for us, along with all its attendant powers, only when we are in tune with the Father, in the flow of His love and light. Many persons who talk of their love for God, find it difficult and even impractical to think of loving their enemies. As James Dillet Freeman says, “Some persons claim to love God but not men, but how can one love harmony and not music? light and not the morning? nature and not the flowers of spring? God and not the likeness of God which is man?”

Paul says, “If I have not love I am nothing.” A person without love is not truly whole. He is immature, undeveloped, incomplete. Paul also suggests that nothing we do or have amounts to anything if we lack love. Without love one has no genuine personality, no uniqueness as an individual. Paul does not just say that without love one is handicapped or might have a difficult time in life. He lays it right on the line: “Without love I am nothing.” (I Cor. 13)

The law of love reveals that it is not a matter of man versus hostile forces, man against the devil, etc.; but it is man against the darkness. In the darkness of thought, with our celestial spark of divinity concealed, we have a deep sense of aloneness. We feel no kinship with anyone, no attachment to anything. Until we mature spiritually, life is an unbearable confinement of separation and alienation. We seek to escape from this prison through entertainment, preoccupation, and acquisition. the darkness of our thought sometimes we lash out at things and persons, often with no rhyme or reason. We need to erase the darkness from our hearts and let the creative power of our spiritual potential express. It was to meet this very need that Jesus taught the importance of love. Love is the one sure way to break down the walls that separate us from people, the one way to achieve oneness with God and wholeness as a person.

How we have misunderstood Jesus’ teachings of love! We may long for love, but we think of it like the happens or it doesn’t and there is nothing we can do about it. In Truth, the consciousness of love may change. We may have a heightened awareness or a toned down feeling. But love is the “Royal Law”. Even as we are always in gravity, so we are alway/ ill love. No matter what the relationship or situation, we are in love. And...even as there is always enough gravity to hold us in place, so there is always enough love for every need.

We have thought of love in terms of approval. How can I love that person, we say, when I totally Ldisapprove of what he is doing? Jesus did not suggest that we should aporove of everyone. He disapproved of the Phrarisees and the money-changers in the temple. He obviously had other things He disliked. But He loved everyone. Liking implies approving of one’s character and involvement... but loving means approving the underlying presence of God, saluting the divinity within. You may not agree with a person or what he stands for, but you can agree with God. It was not for mere sentimental reasons that Jesus answered the lawyer that the secret of life is summed up in the commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart...soul...mind...and strength...and thy neighbor as thyself.” It is simply obedience to the law of life. The implication or else!

During a period of wartime atrocities in the Near East a young woman and her brother were pursued down a street by an enemy soldier. He cornered them in the angle of a wall and slew her brother before her very eyes. She managed to dodge down an alley, climb a wall, and escape. Because she was a nurse, she was later obliged by the authorities to serve in a military hospital. Into her ward one day was brought the same soldier who had killed her brother. He was badly wounded, and the slightest inattention could have brought about his death. The young woman told the experience later from her new home in America. She confessed that a bitter struggle had taken place in her mind. The desire for vengeance fought against the voice of the Spirit within. The latter won out, with its urge to love. It was a simple case of “What would Jesus do?” Love brought its transcending answer.

The nurse realized that the “eye for an eye” syndrome must end somewhere. Why not with her? So she nursed the man as lovingly as she did all the others in the ward. As he bagan to recover, he realized who she was. One day he asked her how she had dealt with him in love. Why had she not simply let him die? She said that she was a follower of One who taught “Love your enemies and do them good.” He was silent for a long time, then he said he never realized there was such a religion. Would she please teach him about it so he could make it his own.

One wonders...if this sort of practice of Jesus’ teachings were more universally applied, wouldn’t we come to experience peace on earth and among men? How easily would the rifts between nations and races and social groups and persons be healed!

You may say, “But that is all well and good, but I can’t summon up that kind of love...I am just not that big.” It is time to recall again, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestwoed upon us that we should be called children of God, for such we are.” Love is not something we have to win or earn or beg for, it is something that has already been bestwoed upon us. It is the very reality of our lives...waiting only to be expressed.

No matter who you are or where you are, the priceless gift of love is yours. It has only to be accepted and radiated. The key is awareness. When you are aware of this inner capacity to love, you begin to see through eyes of love, you meet people in love, you work in love, and life becomes a triumphant experience.

What would Jesus do? It is an interesting challenge for each of make an earnest attempt to express something of the greatness of love in all our relationships. Remember we are always iri love, and sufficient love is always in us.

© 1975, by Eric Butterworth

Return to Eric Butterworth Speaks