James 4:1-10: Quarrels and What to Do About Them
October 8, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Jeremiah 16-18, Ecclesiastes 6, John 3:1-15, James 4:1-10
James now turns his attention to what causes fights and quarrels between Christians. Of course, Christians are meant to live at peace with each other, love each other, forgive each other, and submit to each other out of reverence for Christ. But, nonetheless, Christian communities can become factious, at worst, or at least have smoldering ill-feeling lying beneath the surface. What is the reason for this? And what can be done about it?
According to James, the reason is not so complicated. Ultimately, the reason why we have quarrels among Christians is because of the desires that we have within. We fight with others because we have desires that are battling within us already. The external battles are merely a manifestation of the internal battles. You covet but you cannot get what you want so you quarrel and fight.
If this is the problem – our internal desires warring within us – what is the solution? First, we should talk to God about our desires. Ask God! But when we ask, make sure we ask with the right motives. Our desire should be for the advance of the kingdom of God and for the glory of Christ, not for our own selves to look good or to profit from what we ask. But the solution begins with asking God. Turn to God, ask him, and ask with pure motives for the glory of Christ!
Second, we should repent of our “adulterous” desires. James is using the word adulterous broadly and spiritually: we have a friendship with the world, but if we do, we will have enmity with God. We are, James is saying, committing adultery with the world. And the Spirit within us is rightly jealous for our undivided love, just like a husband is rightly jealous if a wife is committing adultery. This is our situation if we have desires for mere worldly fame and glory, rather than for the glory of Christ! We are adulterers! And so we should repent.
But then, third, we should humble ourselves under the hand of God. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. So submit yourself to God. And resist the devil and he will flee from you! What an amazing truth: if we give ourselves to Christ, if we submit to him, we can resist the devil and the devil will flee from us! And in all this – with seriousness and gravity – “humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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