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What Are You Fighting About? - Forward with Back to the Bible - March 14

  • 2022 Mar 14

What Are You Fighting About?

March 14

Read James 4:1-3 (ESV)

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.


Think about the last few disagreements or arguments that you have been involved in or witnessed. If you get down to the heart of the matter, what was the underlying cause of the issue?

The Bible is full of stories rife with conflict. But at the heart of most of these conflicts are pride and selfishness. The very first sibling rivalry resulted in murder. Cain killed Abel because Abel’s offering to God was accepted but Cain’s was rejected. His wounded pride manifested itself in a jealous rage that resulted in the first human death recorded in Scripture (Genesis 4).

We also saw examples of this in the stories of the multiple wives of the patriarchs. Almost the same pattern repeated over and over: one woman was hurt because the other wife was the husband’s favorite and one woman had children but the other woman was unable to. You can imagine that this led to serious contention between the women rooted in pride, selfishness, and jealousy.

In our study of James, we’ve been learning how to put our faith into practice in real life. James finished up chapter 3 with a discussion about “wisdom from above.” Last week, we read in James 3:17-18 that “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

In today’s verse, James moves from his focus on peace and addresses conflict. He said that fights are caused because of our own selfishness. We want what others have so we sin to get it. We think only of ourselves, so we jockey amongst ourselves to get what we want with no regard of the cost to others.

But James maintains that this is not the way to get what we want! Our desires should not lead us into fights with others, it should lead us to prayer. He said that we don’t have because we don’t ask. Paul agreed in Philippians 4:6 when he wrote that we should “make our requests known to God.” Instead of taking matters into our own hands, we are supposed to take these matters to the Lord in prayer.

It’s important to understand though, that God never promised to give us whatever we want whenever we ask for it. James elaborated in verse 3: “you ask and do not receive it because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” His point was that sometimes, even our prayers are self-centered and greedy. But God only answers prayers that are consistent with His will and His purposes. He doesn’t have to provide for our every whim. Plus, remember that He sees the whole picture. He knows what is best for us in the long run, not just right now.

Friends, today I encourage you to spend some time alone in prayer with God. Ask Him to reveal areas of your heart and life where you struggle with jealousy and pride. Ask Him to show you how these things are impacting your relationships. Then, ask Him to change your heart, conform it to His will, and give you His wisdom.


Lord, I confess that sometimes I am jealous of what others have that I don’t. I know there have been instances when I have acted selfishly or stirred up conflict trying to get what I wanted. Please forgive me. Please change my heart to want the things that You want and give me Your wisdom to know how to handle relationship conflicts in my life in a way that honors You. Amen. 

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