Don’t [fights and quarrels] come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have …
Human nature hasn’t changed much in the 2,000 years since these words were written. As James points out, quarrels and fights come from people’s desires for things they don’t have. We want a better job, or a more affectionate spouse, or a place on the team, or a bigger house—or any number of other things. We don’t always get what we want, so we get upset. We strive and argue and fight to get what we want. The assumption we make is “I need it” or “I deserve it.”
There are things we really do need or deserve. But, according to James, most of our desires stem from our love for the world and its things. Each of us needs to evaluate our desires. Where do they come from? Why do we have them? Is it because advertisements convince us we deserve something newer or better? Is it because neighbors or relatives have nicer things than we do, and we are just as good and hard-working as they? This kind of subtle resentment leads to bitterness and frustration. As James says, “Resist the devil,” and instead “come near to God … Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
Are you unhappy or quarrelsome today? See how many of your desires are justifiable or really important. Then draw near to God, the source of all blessing. He will, in his time, lift you up.
Our desires are many, O Lord. Help us to see what you desire for us. Keep us from fighting and quarreling over things that we wrongly want. Amen.
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