James 4: 1 – 6

Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from ?  Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?  You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder.  And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts.  You do not have, because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.   Adulterers!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.  Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, “God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?  But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says,

Two thoughts to pursue today …

First …

“Why can’t people just get along?”   Think about your church, or any community group in which you participate … and you, like me, may wonder this very thing.  Then, when you move onto the world stage and continually witness the literal warrings, quarrels, disputes, and murders … the question takes on epic proportions. 

James gives a summary statement as to the source of the conflicts and the disputes, the fights and quarrels.   Their seedbed is the fallen heart of mankind.   The pride and ego … the lusting for personal pleasures … the demand for ‘my way’ … the ‘I want what I want’ mentality  … the ‘I deserve it’ mentality.   So we fight.   James even says we kill.   That’s a little melodramatic, don’t you think? 

Don’t forget who James is … Jesus’ half-brother.  I suspect James had heard Jesus on more than one occasion say, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”  (Matthew 5: 21 – 22)  and “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven ..” (Matthew 5: 43 – 45a)
Perhaps James is not being melodramatic.

Remember, yours is the only heart over which you have any control.  So, Spirit-led believer … take care of your own heart.  Examine your own motives.  Pray for eyes to see your motives clearly.  Confess … turn … practice … the apostle Paul said, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification..”  (Romans 14:19)  Will you?  Or would you rather dispute and quarrel for your preferences, your rights, your desires, etc … etc … etc?

Second …

When someone marries, male or female, they need to stop flirting with other people.  Agree?  Many relationships are volatile, sometimes destroyed, because one partner will not stop flirting, or even having affairs, with other people, other lovers.  Such behavior damages the marriage – damages the relationship – violates the ‘union’, the ‘covenant’. 

When we accept Christ, a new Spirit takes up residence within our spirit. When we accept Christ, we unite ourselves to Christ … in essence we ‘marry’ Christ.  James used that image when he calls his fellow believers “adulterers”.  They just keep flirting with the ‘other’, the world.  They want to be married to Christ … but they want to play with the other guy as well!  Can’t be done.  You will never have a rich, close relationship with Christ until you quit trying to play both sides. 

Listen carefully to the beloved apostle, John in 1 John 2: 15 – 17:

Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

My friends, we can’t play both sides.  We think we can.  We act like we can.  James has already told us that if we lack wisdom, ask God for it. (James 1:5)  Let’s do that … let’s ask God to give us wisdom to see when we are flirting with the world.  And then let’s have the courage and the love for Christ, to STOP!   Join me?

Our Father, we confess to You our tendency to keep flirting with this world, its thoughts and values.  We ask for wisdom to see when we are doing just that.  Give us eyes to see which behaviors, which thought patterns are more like our world than like Your kingdom.  You are our first love!  May our lives reflect that love.  Help us …