Loving Our Neighbor into the Kingdom

Jane Olson

READ : James 5:19-20 [W]hoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death. (v. 20) Christian morality often gets a bad rap. Our culture depicts Christians as puritanical prudes who try to force their beliefs on others while hypocritically violating them themselves. The philosopher Bertrand Russell once wrote, “The Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.” Some Christians respond to criticism …

The Paradox of Prayer

Jane Olson

READ : James 5:13-17 The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (v. 16) When my friend Anna was two, she developed a problem with her vision. Her parents believed that if God wanted to heal her he would do it through the power of prayer. Anna prayed for many years that God would fix her eye, but nothing happened. Eventually she had corrective surgery, but for many years afterward Anna struggled with this question: …

Warning for Us All

Jane Olson

READ : James 5:1-6 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you. (v. 3) It's tempting to write off these verses from James 5 as a message for the one percent. Those of us who consider ourselves middle class can feel safe here: I'm not rich, so I'm okay. But what if we measured our wealth not by the fortunes of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, but against the residents of a Calcutta slum …

Making Plans

Jane Olson

READ : James 4:13-17 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (v. 15) My parents remember the letters that used to follow announcements in the church bulletin: “The church picnic will be next Saturday, DV. “DV” stood for Deo volente, “God willing.” Though it now seems quaint, that abbreviation shows a godly humility about our ability to plan for the future. It's an attitude we should remember when we look …

Passing Judgment

Jane Olson

READ : James 4:11-12 Who are you to judge your neighbor? (v. 12) Do you secretly relish tabloid headlines? Reading about the latest celebrity divorce gives me a sense of satisfaction: I may not be rich or famous, but at least my life isn't a trainwreck. Confronting our own sin is hard; it's much easier to find fault with others. But James reminds us that it's not our business to judge. In a letter that focuses on Christian behavior, it's …