Sermon/Study Guide: James
Author: Steve Hixon
Table of Contents
"Dont study James!"
Thats what they told me when I was a new Christian. "Its too hard, its too confusing, theres not enough theology." Well, I know they had good intentions; they wanted me to get "grounded" in the basics. But I plunged in like a fool anyway. And I found out that, although its got a few difficult spots, its not that hard to understand. Mostly its just too convicting!
James is one of those books we should make a steady diet of; we should probably read it once in between all the others books we read, Bible or otherwise. James, Jesus younger brother, is the older brother we always wish we had, the mentor we all really want, the guy whos been through it. Hes not afraid to smack us around and call us "dear brother" at the same time. "James", says Doug Webster in Finding Spiritual Direction (IVP), "is the kind of spiritual director we need."
I like the way Webster describes the changes that James wants to see in us: "from self-pity to humility, from performance to worship, from favoritism to friendship, from opinion to truth, from conflict to peace."
James is a book for those who are serious about the Christian life. Those who just like to think about spiritual things, to have nice religious feelings, ought to steer clear. James writes like a man on borrowed time; he is impatient with anything short of total candor. But James is no pious finger-pointer. He has a pastors heart, and his words are strong like those of a friend who cares. He is acquainted with suffering and hardship. He knows that life is difficult.
I hope youll take some time out to meditate on the letter of James, to add some personal application to what you're doing in your group. Maybe well all see some changes.
Before you jump into the first lesson, take some time to read the entire book of James. In the space below, jot down your first impressions of the style of writing, the tone, the teaching, the imagery -- anything that stands out to you.
After reading, fill in the chart below with your first impression of the general subject matter of each of the chapters.