James 4:1 – Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? (NKJV)
- STRIFE: bitter sometimes violent conflict or dissension; an act of contention;fight, struggle;exertion or contention for superiority
- CONTENTION: persistent argument or debating
- DISSENSION: disagreement; contentious quarreling
- DISCORD: lack of agreement or harmony;active quarreling or conflict
DO NOT CONTINUE READING THIS MESSAGE UNLESS YO U HAVE BEEN GUILTY OF, OR PART OF, ANY OF THOSE THINGS LISTED ABOVE…
Okay, now that the liars are gone (I’ll do another lesson for them later), the rest of us can take a look at this issue: where does strife, arguing, fights and contention come from? If you know where it comes from, can you chop it off at the source? I think so… let’s take a look at James 4:1-6:
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (NKJV)
Where do wars and fights come from among you?
Wars and fights… a daily part of the human experience starting with countries, religions, races, cultures, gangs, political divisions down to churches, families, homes and individuals. Wars and fighting… there is no more accurate definition of humanity; never has been, never will be until God brings to an end this sin-cursed creation.
Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
James, in typical practical fashion, cuts right to the heart of the matter. Wars and fighting come from our desire for “pleasure”, an umbrella term for selfishness, wanting our own way, self-centeredness, personal interest. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Catholics and Protestants bombing each other, Jews and Muslims at war… or a husband and wife slamming doors and cursing each other. Whether it’s Hispanic gangs shooting Asian gangs or white supremacists killing Jews… a church member stirring up contempt for the Pastor, or a mother-in-law causing turmoil in the family… it all comes from the source: personal desire for pleasure (selfish interests).
You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.
I want your wife. I want your oil. I want your position. I want your money. I want your life. I want your happiness. I want you to preach what I want to hear. I want you to fulfill my needs. I want you to make me happy. I will do whatever I have to do to get what I want, no matter how many times it takes, or what it takes.
Who am I talking about? A person? A religion? A culture? A country? A political ideology? A marriage? A church member? Yes.
Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Speaking directly to Christians, James addresses the heart issue: we want what WE WANT rather than wanting what GOD WANTS. As we mature, these two should continue to more closely align. As we transform our lives and begin to want what God wants, the wars and fighting ends. The farther away we get from God’s desire, fighting and wars will increase. It’s a simple and inevitable equation.
As we mature, we begin to recognize that even when we ask God (prayer), often we asking for selfish reasons – we ask “amiss”. Why? Because we want things to spend on our pleasures. In modern language this verse might be worded as “you aren’t being blessed because you aren’t asking God for those blessings. And even when you do, you are asking for selfish reasons, wanting God to give you blessings that are really meant to promote your own selfish interests.” Ouch… James just gets right to it, don’t he?
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?
Huh? What does adultery have to do with this? James is saying that our lives, our desires, our wants should be “married” to God’s. When we chase off after our own selfishness, it’s like a spouse who commits adultery. We are doing the worst kind of damage to our relationship with God.
Seeking after our own desires (which result in wars and fighting), is doing what the world does. We are identifying with the world, acting like the world, choosing the world. Don’t you know that the world is against God? There is a deep seated ill will between God and the world. There is a mutual hatred (enmity). When we choose our own way (our pleasures) we side with those who hate God.
Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace.
In short, God sincerely and intensely wants our loyalty. He wants us to choose HIM. Even when we are straying, the Holy Spirit within us jealously goes about trying to pull us back from the world on to God’s side. Have you ever thought of that and thanked God for it? Even when we are choosing our own selfish ways, God relentlessly works to open our eyes and turn us back to Him. Wow…
Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
James leaves this with some encouragement. It feels like we can never win the battle against our selfishness. It seems like wars, fighting, contention, strife and arguments will never cease. They won’t… for the proud. Who are the proud? Those who think they don’t have a problem. Those who think they can do things without God’s help. Those who blame it on everyone else.
However, for the humble – those who KNOW they can be selfish and KNOW that God is the answer – God has abundant grace and will help us in every way with the wars and fighting that come our way. He will help us not to be the cause. He will help us deal with others when they are the cause.
Take a look at the strife, contention, disagreements and fights going on in your life. Are you ready to admit that the source of them are your own selfish desires? If yes, then God has grace for you and is ready to help. If no, then you have sided with the world and God’s not going to be all that happy about it.