Let Your Gentleness Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5)

We are going to be going to Philippians 4:5 in just a minute. I want to setup a sermon on gentleness and to do that I want you to think about the opposite. Think about anger.

People today still have murder (anger) in their heart. Take for example this classified ad:

Wedding dress for sale, never worn.

Will trade for .38 caliber pistol.

Preaching magazine, March–April 1993[1]

Thomas Jefferson believed, “When angry count to ten, if very angry count to a hundred.” Mark Twain said, “When angry count to four, if very angry swear.”

Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations[2]

There is a lot of anger going around right now, isn’t there? There is worry, anxiety, frustration, mistrust, violence, and the response is likely anger. But you know what I think is disarming? Gentleness. Gentleness is disarming.

We are in a short sermon series on Phil. 4:4-8:

Last week, we talked about Rejoicing in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4).

Today, Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5).

September 6, 2020: Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6).

September 13, 2020: How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7).

September 20, 2020: Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8).

Let’s read Phil. 4:5 and talk about being gentle. My application today is that we would seek to be gentle.

Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

  1. Seek to have a gentle disposition.
    1. The ESV says “reasonableness,” but it seems that “gentleness” is a better translation (Even John Piper says so).
    2. I must begin by admitting that I am a passionate person. I am generally a passionate person and this is expressed in energy. In this speed I do not do slow very well.
    3. Sometimes this passion is expressed in anything but gentleness. I don’t think that is wrong. But I do think I must be careful that my passion is not perceived as aggressive.
    4. Having said that, I believe that gentleness is disarming.
    5. I don’t want people to feel like they need to walk around on eggshells around me. I want people to know that they can say anything to me and I am not going to fly off the handle.
    6. I think a gentle disposition is something for Christians to seek.
    7. We always want to justify our anger, don’t we?
    8. How many times have I tried to justify my anger saying it was righteous anger.
    9. We may have righteous anger, but it may not be expressed righteously.
    10. Anger, is not healthy. Your blood pressure goes up. Cortisol is released which causes weight gain. We all know that anger is not healthy.
    11. Gentleness is healthy, not only for the individual but for others around him.
    12. The more heated the disagreement, the more our inner steam tank builds to the breaking point; and it is all we can do to keep a level head through the whole explosive episode. This reminds me of the Quaker who owned an ornery cow. Every time he milked her, it was a clash of two wills. This particular morning she was unusually irritable, but he was determined to endure the session without so much as a cross word. As the farmer began to milk her, ol’ Bossy stepped on his foot with all her weight. He struggled silently, groaned a little under his breath, pulled his foot free, then sat back down on the stool. She then swished her tail in his face like a long string whip. He merely leaned away so it wouldn’t be able to reach him. Next she kicked over the bucket, by then half-full of warm milk. He started over, mumbling a few words to himself; but he never lost his cool. Once finished with the ordeal, he breathed a sign of relief, picked up the bucket and stool, and as he was leaving she hauled off and kicked him against the barn wall twelve to fifteen feet away. That did it. He stood to his feet, marched in front of his cow, stared into those big eyes, and as he shook a long bony finger in her face, he shouted, “Thou dost know that I am a Quaker. Thou dost know also that I cannot strike thee back … but I can sell thee to a Presbyterian!” —Clyde Murdock, A Treasury of Humor[3]
    13. Paul calls us to be gentle.
    14. I believe that the more I respond to my children with gentleness now, the better our disagreements will be later.
    15. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a time to respond with force. Of course, one has to raise their voice to get attention occasionally, or for emphasis, or some other reason. But our pattern should be gentleness.
    16. In Gal. 5:22-23 gentleness is the second from the last of the fruit of the spirit.
    17. This means that a sign of being a Christian is being gentle.
  2. Now, let’s talk more about this passage in context.
    1. Paul tells them to be gentle, or let their gentleness be known to all. Again, Paul doesn’t say let people know you are gentle when things are going well, and people are nice to you. No, let your gentleness be known to all.
    2. This gentleness may be exactly why Paul could be a good witness.
    3. Again, the Philippians have faced persecution, how could he ask them this. Several reasons:
    4. Matthew 5:44: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
    5. Matthew 5:11: Jesus says that we are blessed when persecuted for Him.
    6. Acts 5:41 the people leave after being persecuted rejoicing that they could suffer for Christ.
    7. But I believe Paul gives one of the best reasons at the end of this verse. Paul says the Lord is near. This can mean one of two things or both.
      1. Either the Lord’s second coming is close.
      2. Or, the Lord is near in Spirit.
    8. Jesus is with us always through the church. The Holy Spirit is within us.
    9. If Jesus’ second coming is near that means that judgment is near. This means Paul is saying, “Be kind to them even when they persecute you. Their judgment is near.”
    10. Either way they had hope. The Lord was near to them. They were not alone. The Holy Spirit was with them.
    11. Also, this idea of gentleness fits the rest of the letter of Philippians.
    12. In Phil. 2:3-11, Paul told them to have the attitude of Christ. They were told to consider others more important than themselves. They were to look upon others needs before their own.
    13. In Phil. 2:14, they were exhorted to do all things without grumbling or complaining.
    14. In Phil. 3, Paul talked about giving up all his worldly achievements for Of course, Jesus was known as gentle.
    15. The idea of gentleness is throughout the New Testament: 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 3:2; James 3:17; 1 Peter 2:18; 2 Cor. 10:1
    16. But I believe their help is in the next two verses. Paul has told them to rejoice always, Paul has told them to be gentle to everyone, but how? Through prayer with thanksgiving. We are going to talk about that in the coming weeks. For now, let’s apply.
  • Apply
    1. To be gentle must mean that I pray about this often.
    2. We must be gentle to all people, even when it is not easy.
    3. If we have issues with anger, and rage, we must get help now.
    4. We must repent when we are not gentle with people.
    5. We must seek to be gentle, not only in volume, but mannerisms and words.
    6. To be gentle may mean that watch for triggers that prevent us from being gentle. Maybe sometimes we overfill our schedule, and we are too rushed, and then when things go wrong we get angry.
    7. To be gentle, we must learn to let go of things that we cannot control.
    8. During this COVID crisis many are worried and angry over things which we cannot control. We must let them go. We must turn them over to the Lord.
    9. To be gentle, we must turn our worries over to God in prayer (next verse).
    10. We must pray about this with our family, friends, and church family. We must link up with the church for help being gentle (Prov 27:17; Ecc 4:12).
    11. We must see this as important.


When I was in high school youth group there was a young man a few years behind me. He was a good person. He came from a very strong family. His parents owned a business and sent him to a Christian school. He liked to hunt and planned to go to college to major in forestry. I graduated and we lost touch. However, after a few years I heard about him. He was in college and got in an argument with his girlfriend. He was filled with rage and he stabbed her to death with a pin knife. He was released on parole. My younger brother went fishing with him, he was safe to be around, but he had an anger problem. Eventually, he was sent to prison, where I believe he is right now.

Many of us may not have issues like that, or we think we do not have issues like that, but we all must seek gentleness.

We must get control of our anger before something like that happens. But in order to truly get control of our anger, we may need help. Get help.

All of us should seek gentleness. This is the Word of God.



[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 33.

[2] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 33.

[3] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 33–34.

Rejoice in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4; Col. 3:16-17; Genesis 1:1)

I have a story that will hopefully help us begin this message. I did not write this story.


One of the most celebrated sports heroes in our state was Charley Boswell. Charley was blinded in World War II while rescuing a buddy from a burning tank. He had always been a great athlete so after the war, he took up golf. While in college I saw him play an exhibition match. Of course, he had a friend line him up and give him a distance, but I can testify that it’s hard to hit that little white ball when you’re looking at it. Boswell won the National Blind Golf Championship 16 times, once shooting a score of 81. In 1958 Charley came to Ft. Worth to receive the coveted Ben Hogan Award.

Mr. Hogan agreed to play a round of golf with Charley. Charley said, “Would you like to play for money?” Hogan said, “That wouldn’t be fair!” Charley said, “C’mon, Mr. Hogan, are you afraid to play a blind golfer?” Hogan was really pretty competitive so he said, “Okay, I’ll play for money. How much?” Boswell said, “$1,000 per hole.” Hogan said, “That’s a lot. How many strokes do you want me to give you?” Boswell said, “No strokes. I’ll play you heads up.” Hogan said, “Charley, I can’t do it. What would people think of me taking advantage of a blind man?” Boswell smiled and said, “Don’t worry, Mr. Hogan, our tee time is tonight at midnight!”[1]


Do you ever feel like you are living in a dark world? Do you ever feel blind? Lately, I am sure that many of us have felt that way. I am sure that many of us have felt like we are truly going through strange times. Maybe you feel like you are golfing in the dark. Maybe you feel like there is no light outside. Because of everything still going on I decided to change my sermon plans. I had planned to talk about sharing the Gospel for the next few weeks. Instead, I have decided to talk about Phil 4:4-8 for five sermons. Here is the plan:

Today, we will talk about Rejoicing in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4)

August 30, 2020: Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5)

September 6, 2020: Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6)

September 13, 2020: How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7)

September 20, 2020: Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8)

Today, my theme is that we have reason to rejoice in the Lord.

Read with me Philippians 4:4:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

  1. Rejoice in the Lord.
    1. Paul gives a simple statement, doesn’t he? Paul says to rejoice in the Lord.
    2. How often are we to rejoice in the Lord? Always. We are to rejoice in the Lord at all times. Paul tells us just that.
    3. He says to rejoice in some NO! He says to rejoice in all things.
    4. I understand, and I think that Paul would also understand, that sometimes it is hard to rejoice. Have you had times in your life when you felt there was nothing to rejoice about?
    5. Maybe that is right now; maybe right now it is difficult to rejoice. It is, isn’t it?
    6. When Paul was writing this letter, he was under house arrest. There were guards around him. We know there were guards because he says so in chapter 1:13 and following.
    7. Paul is writing this to the Philippians who were persecuted for their faith in Christ.
    8. The city of Philippi was a Roman colony. They were very Roman in culture; they probably even spoke Latin which was a little rarer at this point.
    9. By this point in Paul’s life he had already been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned and so much more (Acts 14; 2 Cor 11).
    10. Yet Paul says to rejoice. Paul even repeats it twice. He might have repeated it twice thinking that they were going to wonder how he could ask them to rejoice in the midst of their troubles.
    11. They must have thought, “how can you tell me to rejoice? Look at the persecution we are going through. Look what you have gone through!”
    12. It is interesting that Philippians is a different type of Paul’s letters. There are no rebukes, or anything like that. Joy in its various forms occurs 16 times in this letter. It is said that Philippians is all about joy. Dr. Rydelnic of Moody Bible Institute says that it is about joy in unity.
    13. In Philippians 1:29, Paul even says that they have suffered for Christ, yet Paul exhorts them to rejoice in the Lord always.
    14. The question is, do we have reason to rejoice?
    15. The question is, did they have reason to rejoice? Apparently, they did have reason to rejoice. Paul tells them to rejoice.
    16. Could it be that rejoicing in the Lord is the ultimate help when we are emotionally burdened? Could it be that when we don’t feel like rejoicing is when we really need to rejoice? Is that possible?
    17. Paul tells them to rejoice, even when he is in prison and they have suffered for Christ, wow!
    18. Paul could have told them to complain to the Lord, but he did not do that. Actually, in Philippians 2:14 Paul tells them not to complain.
    19. Again, do we have reasons to rejoice? I will come back to that.
    20. Of course, Paul modeled this. One person writes: “When his enemies preached Christ out of envy and rivalry, wanting to wound Paul and undermine his ministry (Philippians 1:15–17), he welled up not with anger, bitterness, or resentment, but with joy. ‘What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice’ (Philippians 1:18). It takes more than human courage to rejoice when you’re mistreated, especially when you’re in prison where you can’t defend yourself.”[2]
    21. John Piper says about these verses,
    22. “When we have little and have lost much, Christ comes and reveals himself as more valuable than what we have lost. And when we have much and are overflowing in abundance, Christ comes and he shows that he is far superior to everything we have.”[3]
    23. Actually, in Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas were in prison after being beaten and they are singing hymns. Wow!
    24. Do we have reasons to rejoice? Is Christ everything to us?
    25. Let’s look at another passage.
  2. How do we rejoice?
    1. 3:16-17 helps us with that.
    2. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
    3. This passage and really, all of the verses we are going to be talking about for the next month, deal with sanctifying our thinking. That means that we set apart our thinking for Jesus.
    4. Instead of focusing on the negative we do this.
    5. Look at that verse: Let the word of Christ RICHLY dwell within you. Teach and ADMONISH one another…
    6. Notice the focus on thankfulness.
    7. Look at verse 17. Give thanks to God the Father in all that you do.
    8. Do you see what Phil. 4:4 and Col. 3:16-17 are having us to do? This is reframing the events of our lives. This is giving us a different perspective. We do everything for King Jesus and we worship Him in all things.
    9. That takes practice but that is our encouragement for today.
  • Think with me about how great God is and rejoice.
    1. We know that God created the Heavens and the earth. Think about God’s awesome creation and let that reflect back on our awesome God.

John MacArthur shares:

Do you know that birds navigate by the stars? Now, how did that ever happen? Do you know that birds raised from eggs inside a building, where they’ve never seen the sky, can instantly orient themselves toward home when shown an artificial sky representing a place their species have never been? How does that work? I don’t have any idea.

There’s a fish called archer fish. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard about archer fish. They shoot drops of water with great accuracy at insects. Because its water, it doesn’t kill the insect. Scientists think they just do it for fun. Now how did they ever develop that?

Mites, little microscopic bugs, live in the ear of a moth. And a moth can fly fine if only one ear is occupied. If two ears are occupied, it can’t fly. And strangely enough, mites don’t get in both ears. How do they know that, those little guys? That if one of their buddies is over there, they shouldn’t be on this side.

There is a thing called the bombardier beetle, it produces chemicals in its body in two separate sacks. And when the enemy comes along, that little beetle has the capability to mix those two little chemical fluids and they come out of the mouth and explode in the face of the enemy. But the explosion never occurs prematurely. Now, you can’t evolve two explosive liquids in a beetle and never blow the beetle up. 

Well I think you’re getting the picture in ways you probably have never thought about it before. Do you know codfish lay nine million eggs? You probably know that.

Do you know the earth is twenty-five thousand miles in circumference, weighs six septillion, 588 sextillion tons, and hangs in empty space? And spins at a thousand miles an hour with perfect precision so that we’re not going like this all the time. Time is kept to the split second. And at the same time it’s spinning at a thousand miles an hour, it’s careening through space, around the sun, in an orbit of 586 million miles, at the speed of a thousand miles a minute.

Do you know that the comets can have tails a million miles long? And travel 350 miles per second? I mean it’s just astonishing stuff. And then these people come along and say, “Well, it just happened.” If you follow the God-given reason of cause and effect, you’re going to have to come back to a great cause, aren’t you? And then you follow conscience, and you’re going to find out that whoever the Great Cause is, He is moral. And He has a law that can’t be violated without consequences. Now that’s not redemptive truth, as Stephen Olford said, but that’s getting you back to the God who can redeem. The redemptive truth then unfolds on the pages of Scripture, doesn’t it?

Listen to what Dr. Donald Gray Barnhouse wrote, “God gave man brains to see things, these things, and the sorrowful answer is that God gave man brains, for example, to smelt iron and make a hammerhead and nails. And God grows a tree and gives man strength to cut it down. And brains to fashion a hammer handle from its wood. And when man has the hammer and the nails, God will put out His hand and let man drive those nails through it, place Him on a cross, in the supreme demonstration that men reject God.” Rejection. God gives the truth and men turn from the truth. And then they become futile, empty in their speculations. Empty, useless, nothingness and they get sucked into darkness where they can’t know God. And the law of God no longer speaks. And conscience no longer reacts. And reason is warped and twisted. And the light goes out.

That reminds me of the guy in the mental institution. He’s lying in bed and he’s saying, “I’m Napoleon. I’m Napoleon.” All day. All day. All week. The guy in the next bed is really getting weary. Finally he says to him, “Shut up. Who told you you’re Napoleon?” He says, “God did.” The guy replies, “Oh, no I didn’t.” Or the lady who went into the psychologist’s office with a duck on a string, said, “You need to help my husband. He thinks he’s a duck.” I mean nobody knows what reality is. Perception is so skewed that they give each other PhDs, and they became fools.[4]

  1. Our God is awesome, amen!
  2. He created this awesome creation and then He became part of His creation to save us.
  3. We have reason to rejoice in the Lord.
  4. Do you know in the previous verse Paul writes about people whose names are written in the book of life.
  5. When we commit to Jesus as Lord and Savior we have a relationship with God, Almighty. The Holy Spirit resides in us.
  6. We are called His children (1 John 3:1).

Remember what I shared about the blind golfer? What did he do? He said he would golf at midnight. He changed things. Do you know what we need to do? We must change the perspective. We must focus on rejoicing in the Lord, and in rejoicing, we will light up the darkness.

So, this week, here is my encouragement, this week rejoice in the Lord always. No matter what happens make it your aim to rejoice in the Lord. Then at the end of each day reflect to see how you have done and pray about it.


[1] (From a sermon by David Dykes, Has Jesus Touched Your Eyes? 8/20/2012)

[2] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-only-joy-we-never-lose?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=77642378&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-80WqZw3q0ApL72SpydOpMOewIXPyM3OEWwQqigzvcPKh-RWjwk-hd8bXhyJiMSFtpkg4YP9wBrGW2o2zSZyYvLxKnd9g&_hsmi=77642378

[3] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-only-joy-we-never-lose?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=77642378&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-80WqZw3q0ApL72SpydOpMOewIXPyM3OEWwQqigzvcPKh-RWjwk-hd8bXhyJiMSFtpkg4YP9wBrGW2o2zSZyYvLxKnd9g&_hsmi=77642378

[4] https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/80-184/2719

James 5:19-20: Stay In the Truth

James 5:19-20: Stay In the Truth

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends in Poland, OH on Sunday, August 16, 2020

Sin which is not dealt with is contagious, it is better to confront sin in love so that it doesn’t spread to others.

John Wesley [the founder of the Methodist movement which led to the United Methodist Church] preached on the 5th of February, 1738, at St. John the Evangelist, Westminster, he preached “On those strong words, ‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.’” He later wrote, “I was afterwards informed, many of the best in the parish were so offended, that I was not to preach there anymore.”

The following Sunday he preached on 1 Corinthians 13:3 at St. Andrew Holborn, here, too, he was not allowed to preach anymore. This happened at several other churches. It also happened to his friend George Whitefield and John Wesley’s brother Charles (Charles has written many of our hymns). [1] They preached the Bible but the words of the Bible were offensive so they were no longer allowed to preach in those churches.

Wesley’s words were, “…many of the best in the parish were so offended, that I was not to preach there anymore.” They were offended by the Scriptures so they didn’t want John Wesley preaching there. Yet, they did want to continue as a church. Why? Was their problem with John Wesley or was their problem with God and His Word?

Our Scripture passage today comes from James 5:19-20. In this passage James wraps up his epistle. James wraps up his epistle by writing about confronting sin. Let’s read this passage. In this passage you will see confrontation, restoration, and salvation.

Let’s read James 5:19-20

My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

  • In this passage I see the principle of confronting sin.
    • James writes to them as family. He writes, “My brothers.”
    • James describes a scenario, a case study, where someone wanders from the truth.
    • Now, we must question, “Was this man a genuine believer, or had he heard the truth when it really didn’t soak in?”
      • We really can’t answer that fully, but I believe in this scenario the man was not a true believer.
      • You will notice in the next verse James writes that anyone who turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins.
  • John MacArthur’s sermon on this passage points out that the Scriptures use “sinner” to refer to an unbeliever.
  • Sinner implies one who has not surrendered to Jesus Christ.
  • In 1 John 2:19 John talks of people who went out from them but were never part of them to begin with.
    • They might have appeared to be Christ followers, but they really weren’t Christ followers.
    • Wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt 7:15).
  • So, I am preaching this passage believing that James is writing about those who are not Christ followers, though they may have appeared to be for a while.
  • James writes of someone who wanders from the truth. Something I read about that verb says this: The word “to wander” or “to stray” is planetes from which we get planet which was a wandering body. It means to reject, to go astray, to apostatize, to wander. The term is used in Scripture many times to refer to physical wandering and many times to refer to spiritual drifting. And frequently it is used to refer to the condition of the unsaved. The unsaved are said to wander, or stray.
  • So, someone wanders from the truth and now someone else brings that individual back. This means at some point there is a confrontation.
    • At some point a Christ follower must go to this person and say, “Hey, you have left Christ, you are living in sin, this is unbiblical and this is wrong.” The Bible is the Christian’s guide (2 Tim 3:16-17).
    • That is what John Wesley did in his sermons. Wesley was a preacher that was not afraid to confront sin. Every sermon should offend some because the Bible offends people. Listen to Heb 4:12-13: 12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
  • Jesus taught a pattern for confronting sin in Matthew 18:15-17: 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Old Testament quotation: testimony of two or three witnesses.
  • Paul also wrote about confronting sin in Gal 6:1: Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
  • Why don’t we do this? How do we do this? Or, have you done this? Have you ever had to have a meeting with someone where you confronted the way they were living, something they were doing, or some way in which they offended you?
    • I know of situations where a church member (even someone who led worship at a church), was involved in an adulterous relationship. Even though people knew about it, or speculated about it. Instead of confronting the person or people involved, there was gossip going around. This could have been stopped by a conversation between those involved and the pastor. Instead, it greatly damaged the church.
    • I know this is not easy, but it is rewarding and it is necessary. The Scriptures teach us to do this and we must not ignore the Scriptures.
      • In this case I think it is someone who has strayed from the truth likely because they really didn’t know Jesus. If this was a real life scenario you may not know whether they really knew Jesus or not. All you know is they have left the church and they have rejected the message.
      • It is important not to let them go to the way of the world. It is important to confront them. You are to do this the way Jesus instructed in Matthew 18:15-17.
        • First you meet with the individual alone. Actually, first you pray and pray throughout the process.
        • Then you and one or two others talk with the individual.
        • Maybe when another person is brought in you will realize that the person left the church for a legitimate reason. Maybe he/she was offended by a lack of love. This is why it is important to use two people.
        • Then the whole church decides the matter.
          • Also, always confront using Scripture and study so you are sure that you are using Scripture correctly.
          • That is why you bring in two or three witnesses and then the whole church. This is to bring in objectivity and make sure the Scriptures are used correctly.
  • What if the confrontation doesn’t work? What if they still stray from the truth? What if they will not come back to the church? Then you let them go; knowing they have made their own decision.
  • But what if you never confronted the person? What if you never approached them?
    • Rom 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    • That is referring to eternal death.
  • That is what happens if you never share the gospel, eternal death in hell.
  • But eternal life comes through the Gospel.
  • What we must be careful of is the fact that we will naturally take the easy way out. We will naturally make up any excuse to avoid a confrontation. Even pastors do this. We will naturally be passive aggressive. Maybe you will see someone at the store and you make a very passive, yet aggressive, comment.
  • Or, suppose you have to do another form of confrontation. Maybe someone has offended you in the church. Well, you may not like confrontation so instead you make those passive aggressive comments, or maybe you gossip. You both still go to the church. But you both have a torn relationship with each other.
  • All of you know what I mean with this. Passive aggressive people are all over churches, but it is wrong to gossip about someone, or not share your true feelings with the individual. This causes more trouble in the end. The best manner of response is Matthew 18:15-17 which I read earlier. Go and talk to the person. Also pray.
  • One other thing about confrontation. Remember, several times now I have talked about how we need prayer partners and accountability partners. You know that if we did this we would have a wonderful opportunity set up for each one of us to help each other grow in Christ. The Bible says as iron sharpens iron so a man sharpens his brother (Proverbs 27:17). We sharpen each other. This holds us accountable which builds us up before we reach the point where we have left the church or we are living in sin.
  • So, we see James exhorts us to confront those who have fallen away.
  • In verses 19-20 we also see restoration.
    • The person is confronted and he or she is brought back.
    • The goal of confronting is to restore the person into a relationship with you and others in the church.
    • The individual was a sinner in the error of his or her ways and now he or she is turned from them. He is restored to a right relationship with God. Restoration can’t fully happen without salvation.
    • What is a right relationship with God worth? It is priceless.
    • This is just like the commercials. A Big Mac from McDonalds cost about 3.00, a book from the book store cost about 10.00, a burrito from Chipotle cost about 15.00, a cup of coffee from Starbucks cost about 100.00 (obvious exaggeration), a relationship with God— priceless!
    • We can’t put a price on the intangible. This leads us to the last part of James.
  • James ends his epistle with salvation.
    • This confrontation leads to salvation. Salvation implies restoration.
    • James says this saves his or her soul from death. The person who wandered from the truth was heading to hell. Now, they are heading toward Heaven. They are saved from death and destruction.
    • James says this covers a multitude of sins.
    • Jesus died for all of our sins.
    • Sometimes this process is different, yet the reward is the same. Sometimes there is no restoration because you need to share the gospel with people who have never gone to church before.
    • It is not restoring because they have never been a part of the church.
    • We have got to be more passionate about sharing the Gospel.
    • This is eternal life. There is a real hell. Everyone is going somewhere. Someone described death like the escalators at the mall. You know how sometimes when you are going up one escalator you can see people going down another escalator? So, you have passed away, here you are going up the escalator to Heaven, yet you see family and friends going down the escalator to hell. They are looking at you asking, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Dr. Kalas was the president of Asbury Theological Seminary. He was also one of my seminary professors. He told a story of a Sunday school teacher that he had when he was a kid. Dr. Kalas was 86 years old when I heard this story, so this would be back in the 1930’s. Dr. Kalas said that sometimes the Sunday school teacher would get off topic and share a story. One day he shared the story of how he came to know Christ. The Sunday school teacher said that he was a drunk [Dr. Kalas said that is what they called it back then]. This man was a drunk and he was going to through himself in the river. But there was a church service going on. So, he ended up at church. That night, when he was going to commit suicide he ended up giving his life to Christ. He was lost but he was found by God. He was going to literally kill himself but instead he died to the world and became alive “in Christ” for the first time. Instead of dying he was alive. Then, years later he taught Sunday school to a student who would someday become a pastor and Seminary professor and president.

So, what did Wesley and Whitefield end up doing? They didn’t water down the message. John Wesley and Whitefield went to those who never heard and who appreciated the message. “The Chancellor of the diocese refused him [Whitefield] permission to preach in any consecrated building until the Bishop had given a ruling on the matter. Impatient with the delay, Whitefield resorted first to Newgate prison, and then to Kingswood… One Saturday afternoon, the 17th February, 1739, the evangelist walked out to the village. He climbed a hill and spoke to a couple hundred coalminers. ‘Blessed be God that I have now broken the ice!’ He wrote afterwards. By the month of March the numbers had risen to as many as twenty thousand.” Later on Wesley did the same. Many were saved and we have the United Methodist Church today.

So, as you have seen in this passage James call us to confront sin, share salvation and restore those who have left the church who have been confronted.

The epistle of James is all about Christian living. Now as he ends his epistle, quite abruptly, he writes about salvation.



[1] A. Skevington Wood, The Burning Heart, John Wesley: Evangelist (Lexington, KY: Emeth Press, 2001) pages93-100.

The Power of Prayer and the Response of Praise (James 5:13-18)

The Power of Prayer and the Response of Praise (James 5:13-18)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, August 02, 2020

A minister said to a child: “So your mother says your prayers for you each night. What does she say?” The youngster replied, “Thank God he’s in bed.”[1]

Prayer is very important in our Christian life.  A man named William R. Newell said this about prayer: “kneeling is a good way to pray because it is uncomfortable. Daniel prayed on his knees.” Jim Elliot [who was killed as a missionary in Ecuador] said, “God is still on His throne, we’re still His footstool, and there’s only a knee’s distance between!” He also said, “That saint who advances on his knees never retreats.”[2]

Many others have written on prayer. Why? I think that is obvious, prayer is our connection with God. I believe people write on prayer because prayer is so difficult for us, all of us, including pastors.  One reason I believe prayer is difficult is because it takes faith. We are having faith that our prayer is heard. Another thing about prayer is humility. It is humbling to ask for help and confess our sins to God. Of course, another reason is time.

In James 5:13-18 we see James wrapping up his epistle. Here James writes about prayer. As we discuss this passage, I hope you will be encouraged by James instructions on the power of prayer.

Read James 5:13-18:

 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

  • In verse 13 James instructs us to pray in our troubles.
    • Prayer is the subject of the next several verses
    • Prayer is also the better use of our tongues. If you recall James has written about the tongue in several verses. Some of this is review, but allow me to remind you:
    • in James 1:19: be slow to speak; James 1:26: anyone who thinks of himself as religious must keep a tight rein on his tongue. James 3:1-12 are about not using our words to curse people. In chapter 4:11-12 it says not to slander one another, then in verses 13-17 he writes about boasting and bragging. So, now James gives us some good instructions for the tongue; prayer and he will also mention praise.
    • Now, what type of trouble is James talking about? It is easy to think that the trouble has something to do with illness. In fact, at first glance I thought the trouble had something to do with illness. I thought that because in verse 14 James writes about sickness. But I am going to share a different thought on that verb translated “sickness” in a moment.
    • For now, trouble could likely mean persecution. Recall that in James 2:6 the rich were dragging the people into courts. We also know that James was the pastor of the Jerusalem church and we know there was persecution in Jerusalem. James himself was stoned to death in AD 62. Stephen was stoned to death prior to this letters writing. In Hebrews, which I think was written in or around Jerusalem, in chapter 13:3 there is a hint about persecution there. So, I think the trouble James is referring to is persecution.
    • James says to pray.
    • What are you doing in your trouble? I urge you to pray. This is a topic which I have covered before, but it always needs repeating, pray.
    • Francois Fenelon, a seventeenth-century Roman Catholic Frenchman, said this about prayer:
    • Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you to conquer them; talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability, Tell Him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and others.
    • If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject. It is continually being renewed. People who have no secrets from each other never want for subject of conversation. They do not weight their words, for there is nothing to be held back; neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of the heart, without consideration they say just what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God. [3]
    • Now, still in this verse James writes about the opposite of trouble, happiness. If you are happy, sing songs of praise. Col 3:16-17: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
  • Now, in verses 14 and 15 James tells us about communal prayer for illness.
    • I said communal prayer because now you are to get more people involved in your prayer.
    • James says, is anyone of you sick? You should call the elders of the church to pray over you and anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord. And in verse 15, the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.
    • This is a somewhat difficult passage for me to talk about. It is difficult because it would be easy to say if you have done this and you are not well, your faith is not strong enough. Look again: James says, the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. The text continues to say: The Lord will raise you up; if you have sinned you will be forgiven.
    • Now, what does sin have to do with the sickness?
    • We cannot say that if you are not better after being prayed over and anointed by the elders, your faith is weak and your sickness may be because of sin.
    • I know that I have opened a can of worms and I am going to get rid of the worms now. I am going to try to get those worms to catch fish or something productive.
    • The dear man, who was my youth pastor in high school and a spiritual advisor now, lost his daughter to leukemia when she was around 16 or 17 years of age. He is and was a very godly man who spent lots of time in prayer and had great faith. But he was told by some that he had unconfessed sin and that is why his daughter was not healed.
    • I don’t believe that for a second. At least not in that case.
    • Though I will talk about confession in a minute.
    • The Greek verb translated “sick” can mean weak. It is quite likely that James is not writing about a physical ailment but a spiritual weakness and/or some physical weakness from the persecution. Think about it for a moment. These people are facing persecution. They are drained. It has been difficult to maintain the faith. Their faith has been challenged and maybe weakened.
    • Now, James says call the elders.
    • The elders are to pray over the person and anoint him/her with oil. The verb translated “to anoint” literally means “to rub” or “smear” with oil. This could carry the idea of putting oil on wounds from persecution. At the same time this anointing could simply be symbolic as it was in the Old Testament.
    • Either way, it is quite likely that the sickness is not a literal physical illness but a weakened faith.
    • The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. God will honor your request. This is especially true if we believe this is talking about a weakened faith from persecution.
    • The text goes on to say that his sins will be forgiven. What is the sin? Where does this come from?
    • It is possible that the sin is a weakened faith.
    • It is also possible that the sin is just an unnamed sin. Why is it forgiven? Do the elders forgive the sin? I don’t think so. I think we can know the sin is forgiven because the individual has come to the elders. Since he has come to the elders, that implies a contrite heart willing to confess sin.
    • Suppose the person has an actual physical ailment? This passage says they will be healed in faith. You may be questioning your faith because you have not been healed. Remember that our prayers must always be about God’s will. We pray in Jesus’ name because we are praying in Jesus’ character or manner. Look at verse 14. At the end of the verse it says that the prayer and anointing are in the name of the Lord.
    • In the Bible times, name meant character. Our prayers need to be in the character or person of Jesus. This must include Jesus’ will and desires. Our prayers must be in submission to His will.
    • So, the prayer in faith will bring healing if that is in God’s will. The question is whether James is referring to spiritual healing or physical healing.
    • It seems to me to be about a spiritual weakness which needs a spiritual healing.
    • Also, about elders: notice the idea of calling upon the spiritual advisors for support. The New Testament gives this type of instruction often. It was important for the church to be a community. You need to, I need to, we all need to be able to call for help spiritually; and that is what the next verse is about.
  • In verse 16 James shows that communal confession goes along with prayer.
  • In Psalm 66:18 the Psalmist writes that if he had cherished sin in his heart the Lord would not hear his prayer.
  • I don’t think you must always be concerned about some unconfessed sin that you don’t know about.
  • What you must be careful of is repetitive sin. This is sin that you are going through and you cannot conquer. This is sin which you have given into time and time again. We should always confess our sins to God, but we must also confess them to each other.
  • This doesn’t mean giving your dirty laundry to the whole church. Who wants to be first we can have an open mic right now. No!
  • This does mean having a prayer partner or a group of Christian friends that you can share your struggles with at a specific time and place. There is a time for public confession as well. Don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think that is what James is writing about.
  • We need to confess because in confession we clear our minds and hearts.
  • We need to confess because in confession we can hear the person we confess to say that we are forgiven, or God forgives you. We need to hear that.
  • We need to confess to everyone we have offended in our sin (as far as possible). In some cases that may be a large group of people.
  • We need to confess so that we can be held accountable not to continue in that sin.
  • This means the person we confess to, or at least one of the people, should say, “You are forgiven, now how do we prevent you from falling into this sin again?”
  • We are not meant to live the Christian life alone. Unchecked sin corrupts absolutely. Our sin is contagious, always. It is not secret. If you don’t believe me look how divorce affects children. Be sure your sin will find you out and it does hurt other people (Numbers 32:23).
  • This verse about confession and sin implies that the sickness may be actually weakened faith in the previous verse.
  • I know that some of you need to confess and I urge you to do that. Make it a point to confess the sin today.
  • You may have to confess to your spouse that you have looked at pornography.
  • You may have to confess to your children that you have treated them badly.
  • You may have to confess to your boss that you did something wrong.
  • You may have to confess to someone else.
  • Don’t ignore the Spirit’s nudging about this. In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus told the people that if they are about to worship God and they realize they have an unresolved issue with someone else, they must resolve that and then come back to worship.
  • In confessing our sin we can truly be spiritually healed and fulfilled.
  • In verses 17-18 James gives an example of the power of prayer: Let’s re-read those verses: Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.
  • Recall that James was the half brother of Jesus and he was called James the just. It is said that he spent hours on his knees in prayer so much so that his knees were callous like a camel’s flesh. So it is only fitting that as he closes his epistle he writes on prayer.
  • God is right there ready and waiting on your prayers
  • I want you all to know that whether you are battling a physical ailment or a spiritual problem I am here to help you.
  • Stanley Jones said of prayer: Prayer is surrender—- surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boat hook from a boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.[4]


Let’s pray now


[1] Swindoll, Charles R. Read in Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN 1998. Page 456.

[2] Swindoll, Charles R. Read in Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN 1998. Page 453 (cited from Elizabeth Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty)

[3] Swindoll, Charles R. Read in Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN 1998. Page 451 (cited from Charles R. Swindoll, Strengthening Your Grip)

[4] Swindoll, Charles R. Read in Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN 1998. Page 453 (quoted from E. Stanley Jones, a Song of Ascents)