Summary: Message 28 in the exposition of James. This message is the first of two on how faith should respond to weakness.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
“Faith’s Response to Weakness”
We live in a world where many seek to produce what we call “knockoffs”, cheap imitations of a quality product. Some of you are familiar with Pinterest fails. All attempts to imitate the real thing but fall miserably short. Genuine Christianity begins with a change in the core of our being through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit continues to bring about change toward the Father’s goal for every one of His children; to be like His Son Jesus. Sometimes the “knockoffs” look authentic until held up next to the real thing.
James compares the way we respond to life with the way true faith responds to life. He provides instruction according to God’s ways along with insight to help us understand God’s ways and live accordingly.
So far, we have explored several life categories requiring a faith response.
I. Faith’s response to trials 1:2-27
Joyfully endure – continued endurance produces maturity and stability.
II. Faith’s response to partiality and prejudice 2:1-13
Love others as ourselves
III. Faith’s True Nature 2:14-26
Believe God and behave godly or demonstrate your belief by your behavior
IV. Faith’s response to conversation 3:1-12
Control your speech it can be destructive or constructive
V. Faith’s way of life 3:13-4:12
Live wisely according to God’s way
VI. Faith’s Response to God’s will 4:13-17
Include God in all your plans
VII. Faith’s response to suffering and persecution 5:1-13
Patiently endure and pray
VIII. Faith’s response to joy 5:13
Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. James 5:13
IX. Faith’s response to weakness 5:14-18
Ask for help and confess sins
Here James instructs those in a state of weakness to ask for help and confess sins. He then he prescribes a process. He includes instructions for the elders of the church. He anticipates a glorious outcome.
A. The Instructions 5:14-17
1. The circumstance – weakness
Is anyone among you without strength (weak)? James 5:14a
Most of your translations opt for the word “sick”. Here is my reason for opting for a broader translation. Every word in most languages have a range of meaning. The same is true for the Greek language. The context in which a word appears determines any specific meaning.
Our English word “love” has a broad range of meaning. English dictionaries record up to nine different aspects to the word “love”. Context determines specific meaning. “I love pizza” is much different than “I love my wife.”
When studying a Bible term, you can discover its range of meaning by the origin of the word and then the range of meaning revealed in contexts in which it is used. The term translated “sick” in most versions is the Greek root word meaning “strength” preceded by a negative resulting in a word meaning not strong or weak. We do the same in English i.e. “im-patient”, “un-productive”, “un-faithful”. I prefer to translate this passage “Is anyone without strength rather than sick?”.
Give attention to the following brief survey how the New Testament used the term.
a. Physical weakness
But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Luke 5:15
A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." Jesus said to him, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk." John 5:1-8
The sisters (of Lazarus) sent word to Him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick." But when Jesus heard this, He said, "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it." John 11:1-4
No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. 1 Tim. 5:23
b. Weakness of the fallen flesh
I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. Romans 6:19
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
c. Emotional weakness
I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 1 Cor. 2:3
I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. 2 Cor. 11:27-30