Summary: Conflict is something that we all encounter. It is found in every relationship. In James 4:1-6, James shows us how to resolve our conflicts God’s way.
A couple had been fighting over the purchase of a new car for weeks. He wanted a new truck. She wanted a fast sports car so that she could zip through traffic around town.
The discussion was getting very heated when finally the wife shouted, “Look, I want something that goes from 0 to 180 in four seconds or less, and that’s all there is to it!”
And then she added, “My birthday is coming up next week, and you better surprise me. Or, it’s going to get mighty lonely for you around here—if you get my drift!”
When her big day came, the wife woke up early and dashed out to the garage, but there was no new car. Angry, she went back into the house looking for her husband, but he was not at home. Frustrated and upset, she went into the bathroom to get dressed. And there, sitting on the floor and wrapped in a red ribbon, was a brand new scale!
(I understand that funeral services are pending. . . .)
We live in a world that is filled with conflict. Whether personal or national or international, conflict is found everywhere.
James addresses the issue of conflict in his letter. He teaches us how to come to the end of the struggle in today’s text.
So, with that in mind, let’s read James 4:1-6:
"1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 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. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
"4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
’God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.’" (James 4:1-6)
The Bible teaches that we are all, by nature, fighters! There is no greater evidence of original sin than this.
Franklin Roosevelt made this point during his campaign for the Presidency by saying, “There is nothing I like as much as a good fight.”
Wherever there are relationships, you will inevitably find struggles and conflict. Whether we look at conflict on a global scale by taking into account all the wars that have been fought, or whether we look at modern marriages, conflict is a fact of life.
Webster defines conflict as a “struggle between opposing principles or aims.” The verb means “to be at variance, to clash.” It takes place on the highway as we drive. It takes place in business as we fight with the competition, as we jockey and juggle and work our way to the top. And yes, serious conflict even takes place among sincere Christians.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth he earnestly appealed to them to agree with one another so there would be no divisions among them. He appealed to them to strive earnestly for unity and oneness in their relationships, for he had heard from someone at the church about many quarrels and fights among them (1 Corinthians 1:11).
Conflict is something that we all encounter. In James 4:1-6, James show us how to resolve our conflicts God’s way.
I. The True Source of Conflicts (4:1-3)
First, let’s notice the true source of conflicts.
James begins with two questions: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (4:1).
The Greek word translated “desires” in verse 1 is not necessarily a bad word. It’s a term that can even describe good desires. And we all have certain desires. It may be a desire to achieve, or to find freedom, to have a place, to use our gifts, to express ourselves, or to be heard and have a voice. The person who doesn’t have these desires is less than whole.
But James’ point is that sometimes these desires within you can go too far. They can become frustrated—then there is a war. When something stops you in your route toward fulfillment, the natural tendency is for you to fight until you get your way.
Notice that in verse 2a James says, “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.” If something or someone blocks your inner desires and goals—watch out! Conflict is coming.