Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything other than God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
James 4:1-7 (NRSV)
Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, “God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives all the 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.
Churches are no strangers to disagreements, but they are often not handled well. As a result, those disagreements quickly turn into cruel words, hurt feelings, and divisions within the church body. Christians should be the ones practicing love and unity, but all too often we are pushing people away instead. Why does so much conflict exist among believers? What can we do to help?
James says these disputes are a result of internal personal conflicts that affect the way we interact with one another. When selfish cravings and our desire for worldly pleasures take control of our minds, it affects our relationships with those around us. Many times we think that our struggles only affect our own lives, but this scripture points out that individual struggles affect our behavior, which affects the way we treat people, which affects the whole community of believers.
James’ advice? Ask God for the right things—the things that bring peace and love. When we turn our minds away from worldly desires and focus on the things that bring us closer to God, we will also grow closer to those around us. Just like our personal struggles can affect the whole church community, when we seek God in everything we do, we can help to bring all members of the community into better relationship with one another.
God, we seek to live in a right relationship with you, but earthly temptations and pleasures often get in the way. We seek to live in a right relationship with our neighbors, but selfish desires and conflict often get in the way. Help us to do better, to seek the things that bring us closer to you, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Amen.