Summary: James teaches us not only the cause of conflict, but the cure.
A. Years ago, a large statue of Christ was erected high in the Andes on the border between Argentina and Chile – called “Christ of the Andes.”
1. The statue symbolizes a pledge between the two countries. As long as the statue stands, there will be peace between Chile and Argentina.
2. Shortly after the statue was erected, the Chileans began to protest that they had been slighted, because the statue has its back turned to Chile.
3. Just when tempers were at their highest, a Chilean newspaper writer saved the day.
4. In an editorial that not only satisfied the people but made them laugh, he simply wrote, “The statue of Christ faces Argentina because, “The people of Argentina need more watching over than the people of Chile.”
B. Isn’t it amazing how prone to conflict we human beings are?
1. We can find an excuse or reason for conflict about almost anything!
2. If you or I pick up a daily newspaper, we will read of multiple stories of conflict.
3. There is conflict among nations.
4. There is conflict in our own nation over all kinds of things.
5. Locally, there is a conflict about the DESTINY project.
6. Churches, the so-called families of God, whose places should be most noted for Christ’s peace, are often marked by conflict.
a. We read reports regularly of denominational disputes and divisions.
b. And who of us here has not observed, or been a part of a fight within a local church?
7. And there is also the issue of the nuclear family – we know from experience that the nuclear family is fraught with hurt feelings, broken relationships and divorce.
C. As we turn to James chapter 4, we observe that James not only raises the question of what causes conflict, he answers the question, giving both the specific causes of the problem and the cure.
1. So, let’s spend some time looking at James’ assessment of conflict.
2. Let’s look at his explanation of the reasons for conflict, and then his prescription for its remedy.
I. The Cause of Conflict
A. James 4:1-3 reads, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
1. I like the way that James doesn’t beat around the bush; he gets right to the point.
2. He says that the cause of conflict is conflicting desires.
3. When my desires conflict with your desires, and when I don’t get what I want, then the sparks are going to fly!
B. You know, it is so easy to blame others for that which rips and tears at the fabric of human relationships. Turn to someone and say, “It’s all your fault.” We don’t need much practice at that.
1. You and I might work hard to find external circumstances which we can blame.
2. But the truth of the matter is, as James tells us, we need to look within ourselves for the source of conflict.
3. You and I need to be very honest with ourselves.
4. We may think of ourselves as godly persons, followers of Jesus Christ and we are, but at the same time, deep within each of us is that “old man” that dark and selfish side.
5. Selfishness, when it is observed in another, is so obvious and ugly.
6. But selfishness, that is malignant within us, can be neatly surrounded with rationalizations, excuses and even spiritual blindness.
C. James describes us as people who want something, but don’t get it, and therefore we are unhappy.
1. We therefore become restless people, discontented, driven by pleasure.
2. And the more we are driven by the pleasure principle the more likely we will be participants in quarreling and fighting.
3. Three words and concepts leap out at me from today’s text that describe the problem we face.
D. The first word is COVET.
1. The word covet is often used in its negative form, usually referring to lust.
2. It can have a sexual connotation. Jesus, in Matt. 5:28 warned against looking at a woman so as to “lust” after he.
3. But the same word can be used positively to describe the desire for a good or godly thing.
4. Jesus, in Lk. 22:15 used this word when He declared that He had a desire to eat the Passover with His disciples before he suffered.
5. And so we desire many things – some good, some not so good. Sometimes we receive what we desire and sometimes we don’t.