James 5:13 – 20Appropriate Reaction
A difficult and wonderful text. Difficult because it has been so misunderstood and twisted. Wonderful because it offers so much hope and direction.
I. There is an appropriate time for the right action.
A. Those suffering hardship and trouble pray.
1. Find that prayer brings comfort.
2. Prayer connects us with the presence of God. (Ill. A crying baby...)
B. Those who are happy sing praises.
1. Singing is a form of prayer.
2. Singing praises does two things:
a. It gives WITNESS to each other the things God has done.
b. It gives WORSHIP in exalting God.
C. Those who are sick call for prayer.
1. This prayer is public. Private prayer does not put us or God “on the line.”
2. There is the anointing with oil. This does not allow us to pass on the responsibility of praying for the individual.
a. Oil was the one of the main medical treatments of the day. Thus, recognizing the roll of legitimate medicine as an aid to healing.
b. Oil was the symbol of the Holy Spirit.
3. When the sickness is connected with sin, it is an opportunity to make things right among believers.
a. This is the public apology that is often necessary when one persons sin affects the group.
b. Remember that sin brought sickness into the world. Not all sickness is a direct result of a specific sin (caus and effect).
D. Those who are stray are restored.
1. There are two ways to “wander.” “Creed and Conduct”
a. Some things are necessary to believe:
b. When our conduct does not match the redeeming gospel of Jesus or is not under the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit, it is sin.
1.) Sin is a desperate condition of the heart of humanity which causes all sorts of problems.
2.) Left unchecked in the individual or institute (church) it has a killing effect.
II. We tend to choose inappropriate responses for life conditions.
A. Examples of inappropriate responses:
1. Suffering: Look for relief independent of seeking God.
a. Sometimes God wants us to learn something.
b. The real question is focus... where do we look in times of trouble?
2. Happy: Celebrate instead of giving praise to God.
a. We can celebrate our happiness or turn people’s attention toward what God is doing.
b. The real question is focus... Do we want people to look at us or God?
“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.” [Isaiah 48:11]
***** Stealing God’s glory may be the most serious common problem of the church in America today. It’s easy to do and seldom recognized. *****
3. Sick: Do nothing.
a. James tells us to seek and depend on God.
b. Sometimes there is a deeper issue: sin.
4. Sin: Ignored or encouraged.
a. “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.  You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” [Titus 3:10]
b. “Hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” [1 Corinthians 5:5]
c. “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed.  Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” [2 Thessalonians 3:14 – 15]
B. Why do we choose inappropriate responses?
1. These issues are very personal.
2. We tend to make things about us.
3. Dealing with sin is a touchy issue. (“don’t judge” etc...)
4. With most things we weigh “risk verses reward.” The need for healing and forgiveness against the potential public embarrassment and personal feelings.
III. Why do we have this struggle?
A. We just don’t know.
1. We’ve never been taught. (Remember the Bible is a “big” book with lots of subject matter. If the preacher doesn’t hit every subject every Sunday, its okay. That’s why consistent attendance is very helpful... over time you will get the full spectrum of Biblical teaching.)
2. It’s not our custom and doesn’t fit local personality.
a. To some extent that’s not a problem... as long as we are not violating the clear teaching of Scripture.
b. For instance, a culture that does not express happiness or joy publically... then giving testimonies in the public service will naturally be rare.
[Caution: We can not judge ourselves or others by local customs and personality... God, thankfully, did not make us all the same. We should not try to imitate someone else or impose our ways on others.]
B. We place divine intervention against legitimate medical means.
1. I think the Bible never discourages the uses of doctors or hospitals.
2. Paul traveled with a doctor (Luke).
3. Regardless what means are used, God is ultimately the giver of healing (or anything else for that matter).
C. Not everyone is healed.
1. Correct! Sometimes God has something better.
a. Paul continued to struggle with his “thorn in the flesh.”
b. Paul’s physical illness served a bigger purpose.
c. What God does for one, He is not required to do for all in this issue.
2. Sometimes “something better” is gaining heaven.
a. Christian perspective: this life is as bad as it gets for the believer (and as good as it gets for those who are not “in Christ.”)
b. “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” [2 Corinthians 5:8] (“absent from the body... present with the Lord” KJV, NKJV)
(Ill. What’s the point of fishing? Hint: it is not catching the fish...)
***** The point of publically asking for prayer and the church taking time to do this is to place ourselves under the will and authority of Jesus Christ. *****
IV. It is always appropriate to direct everything to God.
A. Suffering, praise, sickness, or sin.
1. Only God is the source of comfort.
2. Only God is the source for praise.
3. Only God is the source for healing.
4. Only God is the source for forgiveness.
B. Give careful thought to our actions.
1. Communion service: We ask for mercy.
2. Communion service: “and be thankful.”