James 5-13-20 (audio file)
Open your Bibles please to James Chapter 5. We are going to be finishing the final verses of James today. Next week we will be doing a summary of the book, reminding us of the things that we have learned as we have studied this book. And so you can be looking ahead, we will be taking a week to look at some lessons from the book of Nehemiah on vision. Then a few weeks to prepare to celebrate Easter. After which I will be preaching through our statement of faith.
Last week we learned that when we are experiencing suffering that we are to be patient. We are to remember that just like a farmer, we need the early rains and the late rains, and during those times we are digging our roots deep into the soil of God. That we need to remember that when we are suffering that we need to be patient because Jesus is with us. He is in the midst of us and as we go through difficult times, we need to remember that there will come a day when Jesus will make all things right. If you recall, he was holding out for us the fact that our suffering will produce steadfastness in us.
So the question that leaves us with is: what do we do while we are in the midst of the suffering? So, what is it about suffering that produces steadfastness in us? What are we to do that will drive our roots deep into God?
Are we to just sit stoically and not react? what do we do?
Well, lets read the text, because James is going to tell us what we are to do while we are in several different situations.
So before we get into the details of this passage I want to bring out an underlying truth in James’ words. You will notice that he describes people in several different states of being. He talks about people who are suffering, cheerful, and sick. The thing that I want to draw out of that is that we as Christians need to be honest about who we are when we come to church. I don’t want anyone to come into these doors and feel like they have to put a face on for anyone. I know that may not be your experience in church, depending on your background you may have different feelings about this, but I want to say right here and now, and I want this to be a pillar of our church that we are real about where we are in life. None of us here have it all together. None of us here are without faults, and weakness and frailties, and pain. If you can’t come in these doors and be free to share those with people and ask for prayers from your brothers and sisters here, we should close the doors and go home.
OK, that being said, lets get into the meat of what James is telling us in this text.
What I want to look at today are four if-then statements that James makes. I want to see what we are to do in different situations.
First: If Suffering, then pray!
-Prayer reminds us of God’s sovereign hand, and teaches us to rely more on Him than our own abilities and plans.
-When we pray, we are asking for God to move, at the same time, we should be yielding our desires to His will. Trusting Him for the outcome.
-Prayer is effective!
Second: If cheerful, then Sing!
-Singing is a way for us to celebrate what God has done, while at the same time building our faith for the future. Song is ubiquitous in our culture. From love songs, to the Harlem shake. We cannot escape the power of music. When we sing to God, our hearts are lifted, and our faith is built. Our affections are stirred for the only lover of our soul.
-Singing is a great way for us to learn and remember truth about God.
Third: if sick, then gather elders to pray and anoint with oil.
-This reminds us that we are made for community. We are not supposed to be lone ranger Christians. We also corporately need God’s help in times of sickness.
- Anoint: there are some different uses for the word used here. Some seem to think there is something significant about placing oil on someone’s head to anoint them. Some commentators seem to think that because the Greek word James uses here is a generic word for allying, that he believes that what James is saying is basically, Pray and use medicine.
- I do want to be careful here, because there are some dangerous theologies built on this verse. There are times in scripture for sure where God desires to heal a sick person, but there are times when God chooses not to heal, and it isn’t because of our lack of faith, it is because God has a different plan for that sickness. Some people also connect these verses to mean that if you are sick, it is because you have unconfessed sin, so you just need to figure out what your sin is, and God will heal you. I do believe that God disciplines His children, and he may uses various things in our life to do that, but if you take the whole of the new testament teaching about sickness, it is not explicitly taught that if you are sick it is because you have unconfessed sin. To me that is a dangerous road to go down.
Fourth: if you sin, confess; to God for forgiveness, to each other for accountability.
- This reminds us of the Gospel, that ultimately when we are in Christ, we have our most essential need met, our need for forgiveness and restoration with God through Jesus’ life death and resurrection, in our place and for our sins.
- Now, when we confess our sins to one another it is not confession to be forgiven by God. it is confession for something that we have done against a brother or sister, and it is a general honesty about our weaknesses, and failures. We truly grasp the gospel when we can speak about our past with honesty and it doesn’t hurt us.
- Jesus Had Scars…