This is what God gave me today in His word:
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:1-3)
Here we see something incredible: the way to stop arguing and fighting! See, James is tracing fighting and arguing back to their roots, i.e. that their passions are at war within them. Well is that really it? Is that all? Surely millions of fights and millions of arguments all over the world can’t be caused by such a (seemingly) simple thing as passions!
Sometimes our passions “war within us,” and we become envious of what others have, or we become angry at someone else, or whatever it is that we’re being tempted with in the moment. Passion can be dangerous, or it can be the greatest blessing God can give, depending on the situation. Some people are blessed with the gift of passions: they’re extremely passionate for the Gospel. Some are “cursed” with passion: they’re passion is at odds with the Gospel, and, instead of longing after the Gospel, they long after their neighbor’s car. Or, instead of being zealous for sharing the Gospel with everyone they meet, they instead are zealous to make a name for themselves, or their business (nothing wrong with having a business, but it should come after God and family). As James said,
“You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”
James is stating the reason they fight and quarrel to be because they want something, but don’t get it. Rather like a toddler throwing a fit because his mom didn’t get his favorite kind of cereal. Of course, the thing the toddler may or may not realize is that the cereal actually was chock full of chemicals and deadly things in general. Or, as James put it,
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
The asking for the item seems to be fine, it’s just that they asked for the wrong thing/in the wrong way, ‘to spend it on their passions.’ Just like the toddler who asks for poisonous cereal, they were asking for the wrong thing. — So then, we’ve established that our passions (that “war within us”) are what causes fights and arguments among people. So what’s the solution? To quell all passions? Well, we already saw that some passion can be good, so no, that isn’t the right course of action. Yet, if not that, then what? James tells us the solution to stopping arguments and fights in the following verses:
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:4-10)
God, even despite our often warring passions, “gives more grace.” I love how James phrases that, as, in those few words, he manages to encompass all the story of the Gospel. “But He gives more grace.” But I’m wretched, horrible, and addicted to drinking and gambling! But He gives more grace. But I have a drug addiction! But He gives more grace. Believe me, He gives much more grace than there is wrong passion. Through Jesus (the) Christ’s death, we have been given grace immeasurable. Through Jesus’ becoming our sin, and then dying, the barrier of sin which held us back from God is broken; torn from top to bottom.
Our passions are great, yeah… But He gives more grace.
You are Loved!