Civil Wars

Civil Wars

James 4:1-12


What kind of desires would cause in-fighting in the church? Often church people (that’s us) confuse our desire for what is good with our desire to have our own way, our desire to win the debate, our desire to be the most right, or the most righteous. In church, if you are committed to always winning the argument, you’re going to lose on a much larger scale. You may win every single battle, but you’ll lose the war. People become passionately committed to one side or the other. But ego worms its way in. And often the contempt for others and anger that emerges in the conflict, gets twisted and bent into simply a desire of self-will: the desire to win. And to make our opponent lose. So what’s the alternative? In verse 3, James says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” Asking is the way of Christ. Be honest with God about your desires and frustrations. Ask God about it. Just when all hope seems lost, when we might be tempted to despair of the human project and the Church, we get verse 6, “But He gives more grace.” God longs for us to come back home. The answer, when we realize our state, is not to turn inward in shame; the answer is to turn toward the gospel. God wants us back. He is merciful, forgiving, gracious, compassionate. We must be single-minded in our commitment to the gospel. The fruit of that, James says in Chapter 3 is “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.”

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