Summary: There is a community aspect to our spiritual life as well as individual responsibilities. As fellow believers we have obligations to one another. James reminds us of that aspect of care.
1. A Contrast
Six humans trapped by happenstance in bleak and bitter cold, each one possessed a stick of wood, or so the story goes. Their dying fire in need of logs, the first man held his back, For on the faces around the fire he noticed one was a man whom he considered an enemy. The next man looking across the way saw one not of his church and couldn’t bring himself to give the first his stick of birch. The third one sat in tattered clothes He gave his coat a hitch. Why should his log be put to use to warm the idle rich? The rich man just sat and thought of the wealth he had to store, And how to keep what he had earned From the lazy, shiftless poor. The angry man’s face bespoke revenge as the fire passed from his sight, For all he saw in his stick of wood was a chance to spite the others. The last man of this forlorn group did naught except for gain. Giving only to those who gave was how he played the game. Their logs held tight in death’s still hand Was proof of human sin. They didn’t die from the cold without they died from the cold within.
In July 2002 in an incident that the news-media called "The Miracle at Quecreek," nine miners were trapped 240 feet under-ground for three days in a water-filled mine shaft. You probably remember, you were no doubt holding your breath with me as they were down in that flooded mine shaft without food and light and drinking water. After they were rescued, they were interviewed about what happened down there. They said that they "decided early on they were either going to live or die as a group."
The 55 degree water threatened to kill them slowly by hypothermia, so according to one news report "When one would get cold, the other eight would huddle around the person and warm [them], and when another person got cold, the favor was returned."
Miner Harry Mayhugh told reporters after being released from Somerset Hospital, "Everybody had strong moments, but any certain time maybe one guy got down, and then the rest pulled together. And then that guy would get back up, and maybe someone else would feel a little weaker, but it was a team effort. That¡¦s the only way it could have been."
They faced incredibly hostile conditions together-and the world marveled when they all came out alive together. [Bill White, Paramount, California; source: adapted from "Teamwork Helped Miners Survive Underground," CNN.com (7-28-02)] from www.sermoncentral.com
2. James 5.19-20
3. James reminds us of our interrelated responsibility
I. See the Possibility (5.19)
A. Knowing Truth is More than Knowing Facts
1. Seen in Lifestyle
a. No doubt in Trials
b. Caring for the helpless
c. Patience in Persecutions
d. Rescuing the Wanderers
2. “Knowing” is Incorporation of Facts into Action – Ezra 7.10
B. It Is Possible (for all of us) to Wander
1. 1 out of 99 sheep (Luke 15)
2. Abram lied about Sarai – Genesis 12
3. David and Bathsheba – 2 Samuel 11
4. Peter’s Denial – Matthew 26.69-74
5. Be on guard – 1 Corinthians 10.11-12 (Israel at Sinai):
11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
II. Seize the Responsibility (5.20)
A. We Are a Community of Believers – NOT Lone Rangers
a. Community of faith that bears witness to world of one God
Isaiah 44.7-8 – you shall be my witnesses
7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and set it before me,
since I appointed an ancient people.
Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
8 Fear not, nor be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
There is no Rock; I know not any.”
2. Seen in Jerusalem – Acts 2.42 – serious to study word –
Stop going to church – assemble as church have teaching/fellowship/prayers/
Word molds us into what we should be as God’s people
B. We Are Responsible to One Another – Galatians 6.1
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
1. Healing/Restoring/Bring Back/Encouragement
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, Hebrews 10.24