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. (James 4:1-3 ESV)
At a party, this conversation was overheard: “My husband and I have managed to be happy together for 20 years. I guess this is because we’re both in love with the same man.”
The audience for the letter of James are believers, but apparently, they fall to the same pitfall as unbelievers. Instead of loving each other, they fight among themselves. James had to remind them in various parts of the book. For example, James 4:11 – “Do not speak evil against one another brothers.” or James 5:9a – “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged.” In the beginning of chapter 4 above, James pointed out that the reason they fight is because of their worldly passions.
What are the solutions to these negative behaviors?
- We can bear others if we keep the judgment seat of Christ in view. James pointed out in James 5:9b that “behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” He is reminding us that Jesus will judge our resentful attitudes toward fellow believers at the judgment seat of Christ. Romans 14:10 conveys “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;”
- We should ask each other for forgiveness. Instead of fighting, we should bless and pray for each other. James 5:16 states “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
Christians must exemplify Christ’s love. If we cannot love one another, we are not being good examples.