Drawing Near to God

Jane Olson

READ : James 4:1-10 But he gives more grace. (v. 6) Like many Christian singles, my friend Megan would like to be married but can't seem to meet the right person. “I get asked out by non-Christians,” she says, “and say ‘no' because I know that's not what God wants for me. But why is the Christian life so unrewarding sometimes?” Megan's situation raises a painful question: What happens when God seems to stand in the way of what we …

Wisdom from Above

Jane Olson

READ : James 3:13-18 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle . . . full of mercy and good fruits. (v. 17) Being holy is not the same as being holier-than-thou. James has told us that faith without works is dead. But good works by themselves are not necessarily a sign of inner righteousness. People who take personal holiness seriously can fall prey to the temptation of legalism—believing that they earn God's favor by works. This …

Taming the Tongue

Jane Olson

READ : James 3:1-12 The tongue is a fire. (v. 6) Speech is a uniquely human gift; it's one of the ways we reflect the image of our Creator. God used the Word to call creation into existence, to give it order, and ultimately to redeem it. Human speech also has transformative power. God gave us the gift of speech first to praise him and second to redeem and restore those around us. Words can do tremendous good. They can …

Faith versus Works

Jane Olson

READ : James 2:14-26 I will show you my faith by my works. (v. 18) My friend Heather doesn't fly. Her husband has patiently shown her statistics on the safety of air travel, but to no avail. As Heather says, “I know all that stuff is true, but I can't shake the feeling that humans weren't meant to fly.” In this famous passage, James points out that there is a difference between intellectually accepting that something is true and living …

Showing Partiality

Jane Olson

READ : James 2:1-13 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. (v. 12) Martin Luther King Jr. famously remarked that eleven o'clock on Sunday morning was the most segregated hour in America. Though Christians have made some strides in racial reconciliation since King's time, most of our congregations show that his observation still rings true. People in my church are mostly like me: college educated and middle class. Today's passage …

Doing versus Hearing

Jane Olson

READ : James 1:19-27 Being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (v. 25) Every athlete knows the importance of drills. During practice, basketball players shoot endless free throws. That way, when game time comes players can count on muscle memory to help them perform under pressure. Here James reminds us of the importance of being doers of the word, not merely hearers. It's one of his favorite themes. The passage …