Please open your Bibles to James 4:1-10. Last week we began our study of conflict with a bit of a shotgun sermon. I know there was a lot of stuff in there, and it came pretty fast. The main point was for us to begin to understand that conflict is normal, and there are different pieces to conflict. A disagreement can be a conflict with no sin, involved. An offense usually happens when a disagreement gets personal, and Sin can happen in the midst of this when we do or say something that is against God’s call for us. Scripture calls that a quarrel.
Today we are going to look at the root cause of quarrels. So, first off, lets define a quarrel. The intern definition is: an angry argument or disagreement, typically between people who are usually on good terms. So, there is a disagreement that has taken a turn into offense, and there is anger involved. This is what most people think of when they talk about conflict. There is more than a disagreement, two people have a differing opinion, and they are angry about it…
As we did last week, I want you to take a minute and write down a quarrel you have had. It could be recent, it may be ongoing. Write down the quarrel. You may still have your bulletin from last week, and you can just pick up where you left off with that one. Now, if you wrote down what I asked you to last week, you should have there what was the disagreement over, and what offended you, and what sin was involved. Those details change with every conflict, but what doesn’t change is the root cause of conflict. That is hat I hope for us all to see today. Because if we know where to look for the root cause of a conflict, we might be able to stop quarrels before they start. Now the reason we are starting here is this: if you can diagnose your own heart about a quarrel, you will be more equipped and humble in approaching another person who you are in conflict with.
Ok Let’s Read the Text:
1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 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. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 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. 5 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”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
OK, so the big Idea for today’s message is this: If you are quarreling with another person, the root issue and cause of the quarrel is not the subject of the disagreement, it is a heart ruled by it’s desires.
I am confident that almost any disagreement that two people can have has the potential to be settled without anyone ever getting offended, or hurt, or having a quarrel. Now, that hardly ever happens, why, because we are ruled by our desires and not by the spirit. Now, this word that is translated desire here is a Greek word from which we also get the word Hedonism, Which is a self centered pursuit of pleasure. This self centered desire James tells us is the cause of quarrels and fights. So, to be clear, if you wrote down a quarrel on your bulletin, write this underneath it, “At the root of my part of this quarrel is a selfish desire” So, now, you need to search your own heart and discern what the root desire is. Some times this desire is also known as expectation. You expect someone to act a certain way, or do something because you desire something from them. Now, that specific desire can take on many forms, it could be a desire for power, or accolades, or notoriety, but underneath it all, is a desire to force something that God has not allowed, so it is a desire to be God.
let me flesh this out in the text. Because it isn’t always clear what the actual desire is.
Look at verse 2-3, you desire something that you do not have. The simplest way to look at this is how children deal with one another. Have you ever seen a kid hit another kid and take their toy? Well, that child wanted something that his parent had not given to him, so he hurt another child to take that thing away. If that type of activity goes uncorrected in a child’s life, they will eventually learn that to get what they want, all they have to do is hurt someone else. That could lead to actual murder, or just the kind that Jesus said was just as bad, “if you say “I hate You” to your brother, you are guilty of murder”. So, while you may not have killed someone to get your way, you may have hurt someone to get a hold of something you wanted. So, adults may not use physical violence to hurt others when they want something that they do not have, they will use their tongue, which coincidently James just got finished telling us how deadly the tongue is, and how it needs to be bridled… so, in this instance, you are hurting someone, not because you want them to be hurt, but because you want something they have. Now for adults, it is not usually an object, it is usually power, or influence that we hurt others to get. They have a particular authority, and we want it, so the best way to get it from them is to undermine their authority and influence. so that we can have it.
The second way he words this thought is that you covet, and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. In this case a desire is for something that you cannot obtain. This may be something that you have worked very hard to achieve, but were not able to get, so when someone else has it, you covet it, and will resent them for it. This has worked itself out in my life when I was in the band, we played music with people who have gone on to be famous…
The next way James describes what happens is that we do not have because we do not ask, and when we do ask, we ask to spend it on our own selfish pleasures. I have found this to be true for myself in quarrels and conflict. I I don’t often go forts to pray for the other person I am in conflict with. I don’t pray that The Lord would work in their heart and bring us into understanding. And when I do get to the point that I pray for them, it is out of selfishness, and desperation…
So, all of these things in themselves are bad and are sins against people, but as The Lord often does, he brings it back to the core desire that drives all desires. Look at verse 4… He says, “you adulterous people”. Now think for a moment, why is He calling this activity adultery? Because, just as in all sin, by taking matters into our own hands, and being ruled by our fleshly selfish desires, we are trying to be God. Ultimately, at the root of a quarrel is usually 2 people who want to if not be God, be the mouthpiece for God.
Now that shouldn’t make us feel condemned, it actually gives us freedom, because of the next few verses that we are going to talk about next week. Look with me at verse 6, “but, He gives more grace,”