Summary: Excellent outline from Dr. Tom Wallace help make this both a practical and memorable sermon. Powerpoint at website.
Why We Hurt The Ones We Love
Powerpoint for this and hundreds more free sermons at our website, at bottom:
The question James asked over 1900 years ago is still being asked today at every level of society, "What is the source of all the fights and conflicts among us?" Why are children killing children? Why do husbands beat up on their wives? Why do friends treat each other so badly sometimes? Why do we tend to hurt those we love the most?
In the book Love Must Be Tough, James Dobson recorded an illustration that graphically demonstrates how deeply these issues are affecting society. He tells of a sixth-grade teacher who gave her class a creative writing assignment. Each was asked to complete a sentence that began with the words "I wish."
The teacher expected the boys and girls to express wishes for bicycles, dogs, television sets and trips to Hawaii. Instead, twenty of the thirty children made reference in their responses to their own disintegrating families. A few of the actual responses were as follows:
• I wish my parents wouldn’t fight and I wish my father would come back.
• I wish my mother didn’t have a boyfriend.
• I wish I could get straight A’s so my dad would love me.
• I wish I had one mom and one dad so the kids wouldn’t make fun of me. I wish I had an M-1 rifle so I could shoot those who make fun of me.
Although James specifically had in mind the conflict that leads to battered congregations and split churches, his words apply equally well to abusive families and broken homes. The same passions that lead to church disputes are at the root of all conflicts. Affairs of the heart, whether against God or a spouse, are remarkably similar. Following the steps James prescribes for dealing with these issues in the church will also extend their benefits into our homes and society.
I. The Source of Conflict – Verses 1-3
A. Selfish Passions (1-2a)
1. Universal desires – lusts that war in your members.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, the Bible states that they died. They became independent creatures cut off from the life of God. From that point forward, they had to find life from within themselves. They had to satisfy their own desires. The desire to be somebody. The desire to have security. The desire to be loved. The desire to do something worthwhile. Instead of resting in contentment with all their needs supplied by God, they entered a struggle to find life where it doesn’t exist.
2. Unfulfilled desires – ye have not …cannot obtain …ye have not.
Our inability to fulfill these desires leads to frustration and hostility. James says, "Ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war." Frustrated by people and circumstances, we lash out at those around us. We become willing to hurt and destroy in an effort to meet our needs. After all, since we are all competing for the same things, we will do anything to eliminate the competition. We envy what we think others have, grieve as long as we don’t have it, and continually struggle to find a way to get it.
B. Sinful Prayers (2b-3)
1. Asking not.
Prayerlessness is a symptom of our independence. I am going to do things my own way. I will decide what’s best for me. I am perfectly capable of running my own life. This is such a little thing; I can handle it myself.
With the statement "Ye have not because ye ask not," James gives us a vital reminder. As long as we look for fulfillment in life from any source other than God, the conflict will never cease. We will never be content with who we are, what we have, where we are headed, or what we have done. We will continue to feel frustrated and others will be hurt.
2. Asking amiss. [doesn’t mean finding some girl and asking her!]
This is to ask with the wrong motive.
Instead of a prayer yielding to God’s plan and purpose, it is a prayer to gratify our own desires. It is an attempt to put a spiritual "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" on our struggle to satisfy our own desires. If God were to answer such prayers, it would only serve to strengthen us in our independence.
How would you finish this sentence (honestly): “For to me to live is _________.” Is life for you defined as a job, a goal, a possession, another person? Or can you honestly say that life for you – the fulfillment of all your desires – is Jesus Christ. Not to be like Christ. Not to serve Christ. But to receive from Him all you need. Are you still struggling to meet your own needs – fighting, warring, crushing the competition – or have you learned to rest in His sufficiency?