What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?
4 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is the source not your pleasures that wage war in your body’s parts? 2 You lust and do not have, so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend what you request on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says to no purpose, “He jealously desires the Spirit whom He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God and He will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
Have you ever wondered where the source of quarreling comes from? When we are fighting (arguing) with another person it is usually centered around accomplishing a desire we have. Years ago I heard something that cut me to my core: When proved wrong I lost. I come from an opinionated family. We say what we think. However, when opinions turned into arguments I never understood why. I use to wonder, “What sparked the anger?” I mean everyone would be stating their thoughts and then sooner or later someone’s tone would change or someone’s countenance would change. It took me years to figure it out, but we all thought we were right or we wanted to be right. I remember I started to focus on why I felt like I lost an argument when proved wrong. Where did I get that impression from – I can’t be wrong. I didn’t know it then, but it was hidden pride. Lust and jealously are running rampant in our culture. There is so much competition everywhere we look. It’s in our schools, work, neighborhoods, homes, and yes – even in church. I could write tons of examples, but here are just a few…
My kids go to a decent private school in our area. When our kids started attending this school most parents asked my husband and I what we did for a living before they asked us our names, or got to know us. Sports seem to be super important! Most kids are competing for A’s. Getting good grades is important, but over the years I get the impression when that becomes the center point it takes away from the learning experience and creates a culture filled with competition and comparing. If you have a God given talent in sports that’s great – I think it should be used within the boundaries God created. All kids are in school to learn but lets be honest – certain kids are recognized for outstanding grades and athletic capabilities. I think this culture creates some to feel left out or feel a sense of less valued when compared to others.
I have seen competition at work. I have seen people come across like they would do just about anything to be recognized, noticed, or be seen as right. I have seen leaders try to push their personal agenda to capitalize off the gain, even if it meant putting someone else in a bad situation.
If you have siblings then you know competitions can destroy the blood bonds siblings share. It breaks my heart when I see this, not to mention jealousy or competition between spouses.
All these examples can create comparing, jealousy, and competition! All of these examples are centered around creating the “right image.” Who makes up the “right image?” Who gets to decide who or what is more important than others. Truthfully, you and I decide what our image will be, but we have to dig deeper to figure out why we want what we want. Where is our motivation coming from. I believe God is flat out saying we do not have because we ask with the wrong motives. That’s the meat of the message – motives. What really motivates our hearts desires? Is it motivated by competition, comparing, or jealousy?
Everything we say, think, or do is the result of an intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, that’s basic human behavior. It’s very possible we are praying about something or wanting something because it was influenced by a selfish or lustful desire. I believe these desires come from wanting what another person has or wanting to be seen the way we think another is seen. What’s wrong with seeking God’s Word and allowing our prayers to line up with His Words?
I do believe we live in a culture where we are measuring ourselves to others because we can sense the cultural climate agrees with status quo. Once we figure out what the status quo is then all of a sudden there we are trying to measure up and sometimes when we feel like we don’t measure up it causes us to feel like we failed or we are not as valuable.
Envy, jealousy, and lust can cause murder and quarreling. And don’t forget Yeshua’s teaching; we can murder and lust in our hearts, it’s not always physical. The root to our prayers and the motives to our wants and desires should always be in question. God says He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Hello? This is why we are to submit to God’s Word and follow His ways. Don’t forget to resist the devil and he will flee from you. How did Yeshua fight the devil? He used His Word to fight the enemy.
Let’s take a look at lust in the Greek using Strong’s: (Biblehub.com)
“1937 epithyméō (from 1909 /epí, “focused on” intensifying 2372 /thymós, “passionate desire”) – properly, to show focused passion as it aptly builds on (Gk epi, “upon”) what a person truly yearns for; to “greatly desire to do or have something – ‘to long for, to desire very much’ ” (L & N, 1, 25.12).”
When I think about a lustful motivation, I think about Adam and Eve. Eve fell into sin because she had a desire of the eye (lust) to eat from the tree God commanded them not to eat from. Was she really that hungry? What about all the other trees she could eat from? I mean really – what was so special about that tree? Temptation. The temptation to be like God. The temptation to be seen as being as knowledgeable or intelligent as God. Genesis 3:5 NASB : “For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and evil.'”
We have to be careful. Satan is still trying to get us to eat the wrong stuff. I think it’s a critical reminder, James is telling us to be careful and analyze where our appetite is coming from. Are we hungry for what God is hungry for or are we hungry for something else? That something else needs to be checked and balanced because it can be coming from jealousy, envy, or evil lust.
Sometimes we want to be seen as having it all together, or having a degree of knowledge or success that would make us appear wise or intelligent to the masses, and if someone cut in on that then we may feel we are presenting the wrong image. We can also create an image to appear that we posses material wealth or an appearance that looks like we are keeping up with the wealthy. Image is important. Image is so important that Bible states, “27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27 NASB)
Like I said image is so important, but is there a wrong image? Revelation 13:15 NASB, “And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause all who do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.”
Lastly, if James 4 also talks about asking and not receiving because we are asking for the wrong motives. What motivates our hearts to pray about certain things? I am learning the closer I hang out in His Word and spend time with Him the more I can understand His will and purpose for my life. I believe the key is allowing His Spirit to motivate our heart!
The same enemy that tempted Adam and Eve in the beginning is trying to tempt us too. There is nothing new under the sun. We have to question our motives and really search deep within us to see what has our eyes attention. It’s easy to make ourselves sound like God or hear another voice that always says yes to everything our eye lust for. We have to be careful where we allow our eyes and desires to hang out. We have to question if we are pursuing a self-righteous attitude. We have to question if we want something because we are jealous? We have to question if we are only saying something or doing something to be recognized and get praise from others.
Our goal should be to seek God and to be servants to others – that’s showing humility. What ever we pray for or how ever we handle others it should be to honor our Father and bring Him glory!
Encouragement: Hopefully we put away trying to be friends with the world, or be seen as successful according to the world’s standards.
Psalm 37:4 NASB
4 Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.