September 20, 2020

Why We Fight and Quarrel

Series:
Passage: James 4:1-12

James 4:1-12 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.

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

 

This section of the book of James that we begun two Sundays ago James 3:1 – 4:12 where he writes about evil and deadly speech, one can’t of use his tongue to bless God and curse people, wisdom from above and demonic wisdom with jealousy and selfish ambition that brings disorder and every vile practice. Addressing all these things James doesn’t write to the world he writes to believers who take on the likeness of the world.

Think of this when someone after hearing the gospel. The glorious message of God saving men and reconciling the whole world to himself through Christ. The message into which even angels long to look into. A person is invited to our church. As he comes and observes what does he see? Does he see the reflection and embodiment of the message that he heard? Or from the first Sunday he can notice clicks and groups within the church, people giving stink eyes to one another. And if he sticks around for a bit longer will he be pooled into gossips and intrigues. Throughout the book James reminds us of the glorious gospel and that if we believe this gospel, we are to live it out. Faith works.

Sometimes we look at all the bad and evil things people do, even people within the church and we think how can they do this? And this is the question James answers in the first verses. But what I really don’t want us to miss is to be asking ourselves how can I do this?

This passage is heavy and let’s pray and ask God for mercy so that as we go through these verses we will reflect on our own lives and hearts in light of the truth. And that it will bring us to repentance and renewed relationships with God.

 

  1. What causes fights and quarrels?

This is a crucial question, because most of the time we tend to think that it is a fault of another person or other causes that are outside of us. At worst we are ready to admit our wrong behavior. Such as anger or evil talks. But here James digs deeper than behavior. He addresses the root of the problem.

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.

Our passions are the cause. We desire and don’t get what we want so we murder. I think James here refers to Jesus who says that if you are angry with your brother you are guilty of murder. We desire pleasure, recognition, possession, fame or status. And when we don’t get it, we fight and quarrel.

You do not have, because you do not ask. The problem might be that you don’t bring your desires before God and you put your hope in other people. Or maybe you do come before God and ask. But you ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. The purpose of coming to God is not to pray so that you may ask for things to satisfy your selfish desires, but to be with God.

 

  1. Friendship with the world makes one enemy of God

You adulterous people!

Throughout the letter James refers to his readers as brothers or dear brothers, but here he calls them adulterous people. Reminding them of the way Israel behaved in relations to God. The book of prophet Hosea portrays exactly this. When God tells the prophet to marry a prostitute.

“Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” (Hosea 1:2)

How God because of his love and faithfulness set his affection, pursues his people and blesses them, but they go after and love other gods and set their affections on other things, but God.

There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. (Hosea 4:2)

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.

You cannot have both. If you are pursuing a friendship with the world. The way you live. When you pursue sin over God. It makes you his enemy. It is not you saying that God is my enemy. It is God looking at you and declaring that you are his enemy.

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”? 

Our God is a jealous God. As a man jealous of his wife’s affection. So, God is jealous over the people he created. We take sin and going after the world so lightly. Many times thinking, what is the big deal, God gives grace. No man would say what’s the big deal about my wife adultery with another man?

God isn’t jealous in any insecure way, how we can get jealous. He is jealous because he is the only source of satisfaction and joy. So, God wouldn’t be loving if he just let us go after a counterfeit joy. The love of Jesus is holy. He gives all, and he demands all, because he is a good Husband.

 

  1. But God

We are like addicts pursuing our passions. Sociologists define addiction as the pursuit of a behavior catastrophic for an individual’s conscious life values and goals, while denying its seriousness. Further, addiction is (technically understood as) a behavior that requires some form of community intervention to interrupt and alter it.

In a home where a husband is addicted to alcohol or gambling, he won’t stop wasting himself and family’s resources until loved ones, pastor or court intervenes. So, we are in need of God’s intervention.

6 But he gives more grace. He continuous to pour out his grace. If it seems like it is not enough today, he will pour more. Despite our unfaithfulness he pursues us. Jesus died for his enemies, he shed his blood for us.

19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’ (Hosea 2:19-20,23)

It is by God’s grace that we are saved, but it also the same grace that trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age (Titus 2:12). If you have truly received God’s grace you will live differently. So, do not deceive yourself the tree is known by its fruit. So humble yourself before the Lord and receive the grace. And I these next verses James points out exactly the way we can do it.

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.

  1. Submit yourself to God
  2. Stop resisting God. Resist the devil. When we hear commandments that go against what we love we resist God and embrace the devil. So, resist the devil and he will flee from you.
  3. Draw near to God. Seek intimacy with him.
  4. Pursue purity with your heart and mind. With all of you.
  5. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Start taking your sin seriously.

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

It all sounds like a depressive way to live with all the mourning and weeping. Humble yourself before God and he will exalt you. He will satisfy you and you will find joy in him as you were created to do.

 

  1. Do not speak evil against your brother

James finishes this section by reemphasising on how we are to relate to one another. Because what you believe and what you pursue is evident in the way you live with your brothers and sisters.

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. Slander kills the church

Def. To slander - is to speak against another person, to attack another person, to be critical toward another person, or to speak critically to someone else about another person.

The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

You judge the law. You pick and choose what is good for you, what you want to obey and what doesn’t fit you, you don’t want to obey.

12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17  haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18  a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19  a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Is there a conflict or disagreement that you need to resolve by repenting and pursuing peace with your brother and sister? How can you be a peacemaker in your church serving your brothers and sisters, encouraging and building them up with your speech?