The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 6/22

Posted on | June 22, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 6/22

Scripture reading: Genesis 13:1–13

The Cause and Cure of Conflict

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be
disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from
above is first pure, then peaceable. (James 3:16)

I wonder how much the United Nations would be willing to pay a consultant who promised a sure-fire, guaranteed method for ending all wars. And yet the apostle James makes just such a promise for free! Yes, written in language that anyone can understand is a promise from God himself that if you follow his advice, global peace will come to all.

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. (James 4:1–4)

As if he were peeling an onion, James exposes the ever-deepening layers of the true source of all human conflict. Only when the roots are exposed can a real solution be found.

First level. Beginning with what is most obvious, James explains that the cause of conflict is “your passions at war within in you.” External conflict is caused by internal conflict. When I want something and can’t get it, I’m upset on the inside and this makes me want to fight someone on the outside. As James puts it, “You desire and do not have, so you murder.” The first cause of conflict is unmet desires.

Second level. Peeling down a layer, James explains why our desires are unmet. “You do not have, because you do not ask.” God is the only one who can satisfy our inner desires. If we would only ask him to meet our desires rather than fighting our neighbor, what a different world it would be! Prayerlessness, James says, is the deeper cause of conflict.

Third level. But this raises another issue. Sometimes I do ask God to meet my desires, but he is silent. Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Peeling away another layer, James exposes the deeper cause: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” God doesn’t answer prayers that are motivated by jealousy and selfish ambition.

Fourth level. Why then is my heart so selfish and proud? Why are my desires so ungodly? Ah, now we are asking the truly important question. The answer will lead us to the root cause of all human evil. “Don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” When we love the things of this world, our desires are focused on the wrong things. We thus become enemies of God! In other words, we fight one another because we are at war with God!

James’ analysis of the cause of conflict is profound: Loving this world leads to selfish desires which leads to wrong praying which leads to unanswered prayer which leads to frustration because my desires aren’t met which makes me want to pick a fight with you!

So what’s the cure for conflict? I’m so glad you asked! Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double- minded (James 4:8). Heart purity is the only sure path to global peace.

If we don’t change the direction we are going,
we are likely to end up where we are heading.
—Chinese proverb

point to ponder • Have you thought deeply about the true cause of conflict in your life?

prayer focus • Ask God to reveal any selfish desires that are at the root of your conflict. Then ask him to clean your heart.

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