Summary: When we follow worldly wisdom, the evidence will be demonstrate in the quarrels and fights that occur in our churches and in our other relationships. The problem is solved when we humble ourselves before God and before others.
“A new movie, “Fight Church,” raises the unusual question: “Can you love your neighbor while kneeing him in the face?” (Source: ABC news, abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/church-fight-club-pits-pastor-pastor-23188184
The documentary, by directors Daniel Junge and Bryan Storkel, is about pastors who practice mixed martial arts with their parishioners. These pastors claim that Jesus was a tough guy and that mixed martial arts helps bring in people who connect with the toughness of boxing.
The news media picked up on this story because it seems quite inconsistent to place church and fighting in the same context. At least in this situation, ABC news is right. Fighting doesn’t belong in the church, either in the “Octagon Arena” of mixed martial arts, or among those of us who call ourselves Christian.
James addresses the issues of FIGHTING in the CHURCH in JAMES 4.
“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. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:1–10, ESV)
Really, James 4:1-10 extends the thought from James 3:13-18 concerning EARTHLY WISDOM and HEAVENLY WISDOM. When we follow worldly wisdom, the evidence will be demonstrate in the quarrels and fights that occur in our churches and in our other relationships. Fights among Christians come from the selfishness that is within our hearts.
We will examine the problem that James addresses by using medical terminology. First, we see the SYMPTOMS that were present in the Churches to whom James was written. Second, we will see the SOURCE of these symptoms - our fleshly nature. Third, we will discover the SOLUTION to our fighting and discontent lives. This solution is found in God’s grace and is activated in our lives through humility.
So first, let’s examine the SYMPTIOMS.
There is a very strong “WE” factor in this passage. While it is difficult to recognize from the English translation, it should be noted that all of the pronouns in this passage are plural. That means that James is writing about the fighting and quarrels that exist in the church. These fights and quarrels (4:1) ultimately stem from our inner passions - a reference to our sinful nature that rests within us (Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:13-16).
The words “fights and quarrels (4:1) refer to
“fights” =”state of war,” polemoi)
“quarrels” = individual disputes or “battles,” J. Ronald Blue, “James,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 829.
But external fighting is not the only demonstration that we are following worldly wisdom. Another symptom is unfulfilled desires. This is found in the phrase “you desire and do not have.” “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 4:2, ESV). Many Christians are dissatisfied with life and pursue one ambition after another in search of contentment. If we are not seeking heavenly wisdom, we will continually seek satisfaction from the things of the world - possessions, affirmation, relationships, pleasure or success.
The result of a life of unfulfilled desires is that we end up so frustrated that we are driven to murder. James was implying that all of these Christians had killed a human being. Rather, he is indicating that our frustrations lead us to destructive actions, the most horrible of all being physical murder.
Next, let’s use our medical analogy to examine The SOURCE of these actions. Pure and simple, it is Selfishness!
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?” (James 4:4–5, ESV)