Summary: When Christians fight and quarrel they show that they've embraced the world and its ways of dealing with conflict. God's wisdom is different than the world's. Do you know what that difference is?
OPEN: Years ago, Tony Campolo wrote a book about Christianity called “Who Switched The Price Tags”
He told about the time he and his best friend decided to break into the basement of the local five-and-dime store. They didn’t plan to rob the place (Sunday School boys after all); instead, they planned to do something that was far worse for the owner. Their plan was to break in and change the price tags on everything. I don’t think they actually got beyond the planning stages… but they imagined customers arriving and discovered that radios were selling for a quarter and bobby pins were priced at five dollars each.
Campolo wrote: “With diabolical glee, we wondered what it would be like when… nobody could figure out what the prices of things really should be.”
In a store the price tags tell us the value of what we want to buy. But if someone switches the price tags, it’s hard to know how valuable something is.
In the book of James, God rebukes Christians who seemingly can’t read the price tags. They’ve lost the understanding of how valuable things should be. But now… how does God know they’ve misread the price tags?
James writes: “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.” James 4:1-2
You see, when Christians get into quarrels and fights, something is wrong! And God tells is that THIS is what’s wrong: “You adulterous people! Do you not know that FRIENDSHIP WITH THE WORLD is enmity (“becoming an enemy”) with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:3-4
In other words, when Christians fight and quarrel it shows that they’ve put a higher value on the world THAN they have put on God. In fact, Christians who fight and quarrel are called “adulterous” because they’ve apparently abandoned their commitment to God… for a commitment to the world.
So… what’s going on here? Well, the root of the problem James is talking about here is that some Christians have fallen in love with worldly possessions. And that IS an issue for many Christians. The lure of possessions and the promise of happiness is everywhere. People build their lives around how much money they have in 401K, and how many possessions they have in their homes and garages.
ILLUS: I had a friend named Gary in Union City who owned a business there. He was always struggling financially and he came to me and asked advice. I noticed he always leased a brand new Trans Am car every couple years and suggested that maybe he should “downsize.” He was shocked and replied: “But God wants me to be happy, doesn’t He?”
Gary’s problem was that he was hooked on the idea that happiness could be found IN his possessions.
ILLUS: Out West there is a General Store in the middle of nowhere. When travelers stop in - they see a sign that says "If you can't find it in this store, just ask us about the item, and we'll tell you how to get along without it."
Jesus said: “(You can’t) serve two masters, (you’ll) either hate the one and love the other, or (you’ll) be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:24
It’s a repeated theme throughout Scripture: Only a fool clings to things of this world
One writer explained it this way:
• Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit… and they weren’t even hungry! As a result they ended up losing all they had in exchange for shame, suffering, and death.
• Lot's wife, fled from Sodom as God destroyed it BUT then looked back at the home she couldn't keep, and became a pillar of salt.
• Achan stole a garment of gold from Jericho that he couldn’t wear, and silver and gold he couldn’t spend, and ended up losing all that he had… including his life.
• Judas, for 30 pieces of silver which he had no occasion or conscience to use, took his own life in shame and despair.
• Demas, a companion of Paul’s - loved this world more than Jesus, walked away from Christ and brought upon himself the wrath of God.
Jesus said: “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? Matthew 16:26
Trying to GAIN the world at the expense of walk with God… is DANGEROUS!!! But I believe there’s a way to avoid that kind of danger! And the key to avoiding this danger is found in Romans 10:9 “… if you CONFESS with your mouth that JESUS IS LORD and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”