Summary: James describes how Christ-followers can become peace makers.
Since 3600 B.C. the world has known only 292 years of peace.
During this period there have been 14,531 wars, large and small, in which 3,640,000,00 people have been killed.
War is a fact of live. Jesus said that we should expect to hear of wars and rumors of war until He returns (Matthew 24:6). James speaks here about war. In so doing, he identifies three types of war that can exist in the life of the Christ-follower and how they all can be stopped.
1. The war among us - v. 1a; 11-12
Columnist, George Will once described a football game as violence punctuated by committee meetings.” Sadly a similar description could be given of too many churches.
It is a fact of life that men fight with one another. But that fact should be superseded in the life of the Christian by another fact - our oneness in Christ.
“Christ is the reason we are now at peace. He made us Jews and you who are not Jews one people. We were separated by a wall of hate that stood between us, but Christ broke down that wall. By giving his own body, Christ ended the law with its many commands and rules. His purpose was to make the two groups become one in him. By doing this he would make peace. Through the cross Christ ended the hate between the two groups. And after they became one body, he wanted to bring them both back to God. He did this with his death on the cross. Christ came and brought the message of peace to you non-Jews who were far away from God. And he brought that message of peace to those who were near to God. Yes, through Christ we all have the right to come to the Father in one Spirit.” - Ephesians 2:14-18 (Easy to Read)
When I realize that not only am I a person who God loves and for whom Jesus died, but so is my brother or sister in Christ, it makes all the difference in how we relate to each other.
But sometimes, unfortunately, believers do go to war with each other: leader against leader, church against church, fellowship against fellowship. The world watches these religious wars and says, “Behold, how they hate one another!”
The Bible is clear that we are to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) to one another and hold one another accountable to God’s truth. But we are never to cross the line to where we become slanderous toward one another, as James describes in verses 11-12.
Why does this happen? As we have mentioned, we belong to the same family; we trust the same Savior; we are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit - and yet we fight one another. Why? James answered this question by explaining that there is a second war going on.
2. The war within us - 1b-3
James says there is a war within individual believers that often causes war among believers. It is the same internal war that Paul spoke of:
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as
yourself.’ But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” - Galatians 5:13-16 (NLT)
Notice how Paul says that when I live only to please my selfish, sinful desires, that choice will be revealed in the way I treat others. This is the same point James is making here. James tells us that you can tell when a believer is living for themselves rather than by the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit by virtue of their . . .
A. Wrong desires - v. 2a
B. Wrong actions - v. 2b
C. Wrong attitudes - v. 2c
D. Wrong prayers - v. 3
How do we prevent the war within between the Holy Spirit and our sinful, selfish nature? By daily surrendering to the Holy Spirit! We need to daily surrender even before the war begins!
Two little saplings grew side by side. Because of the action of the wind they continually crossed each other. In time, the bark of each tree became wounded and the sap began to mingle, until one day they bonded together. As they grew, the stronger began to absorb the life of the weaker. One became larger and larger, while the top of the other began to wither and die. Now there are two trunks at the bottom and only one at the top.