Summary: Message 29 in our exposition of James. This is the second part of a teaching on how faith should respond to weakness or sickness.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
“Faith’s Response to Weakness” Pt 2
Today we continue our exploration of faith’s response to weakness.
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, includes instructions for the elders and 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”. As we discovered last week, specific words communicate a range of nuance or meaning. The context in which the word is used provides the clues as to what nuance may be intended. “I love pizza” obviously communicates a culinary connection to pizza. “I love my wife” obviously communicates a different kind of connection. Over time the nuances of specific word become generally recognized. The term translated “sick” in most Bible versions comes from a Greek root word meaning “strength” preceded by a negative; resulting in a word meaning not strong or weak. I prefer to translate this passage “Is anyone without strength rather than sick?”. Or “is anyone weak among you?”
Last week we explore the various nuances of the word by tracking its usage in the New Testament.
a. Physical weakness - sickness
b. Weakness flesh
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
James also used a synonym in verse 15 for “weak”.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. Hebrews 12:3
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
d. Weakness of faith or spiritual weakness
Without becoming weak in faith Abraham contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; Romans 4:19
Accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. Rom 14:1
e. Demonically distressed
It was used to describe the stat of one in some way affected by demonic influence.
f. General Inability
The term has a wide range of meaning spanning every aspect of our life. Weakness of body, soul, spirit, mind, will, emotions, abilities. The book of James addresses all manner of weakness in the church family. James provides a prescription for weakness in the church. He first addresses the one experiencing weakness and then the ones tasked with helping them.
2. The conduct of the weak 5:14a, 16
a. Call for the elders of the church 5:14a
Is anyone among you without strength? Call for the elders of the church…James 5:14
This is the word pros kaleo which means to call toward or to one’s self. It means to invite someone into your life to help. Who do we call? We call for the elders of the church which could mean the official elders of the church or the term could also refer to those older and mature in the church. The plural use of the term indicates we are to invite more than one.
b. Confess sins to one another 5:16
A second action occurs in verse 16 where James summarizes the process.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another… James 5:16
James moved from providing instruction to any individual member of the family struggling at a specific time with weakness to instruction for the whole church family to develop a practice of confessing sins to one another and praying for one another.
The term translated “confess” comes from two terms “same” and “say”. It had to do with an acknowledgement of something or a declaration of agreement. To say the same thing. Be willing to call sin as God sees it.
We honestly acknowledge our struggle. We willingly humble ourselves and evaluate our life according to God’s standard. Sometimes our weakness directly relates to something in our life. Anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, moral failure, guilt, rebellion, disobedience, doubt. Neglect of our spiritual health can weaken any area of our life from the physical to the spiritual. James lays the responsibility to ask for help on the one experiencing weakness in their life. James instructed them to invite mature believers to help them address their weakness.
James called for an openness about their life at any of these categories. Why isn’t this a regular practice in churches today? Fear, bad experience, pride, lack of trust in other people, embarrassment.
3. The conduct of the elders 5:14b