We’ve been going through T.W. Hunt’s study, The Mind of Christ on Wednesday nights and it has been incredible. It is a very clear study on how to put on the Mind of Christ, take thoughts captive, and reflect the character of Christ in all that we think, say, and do. Many are being confronted with wrong motives, struggling relationships, and bubbling pride. Often, it is hard to see the root causes of many of our problems, and it is easier to gloss over them through rationalizations and excuses. We don’t think that our pain or struggles really has anything to do with US, and self righteousness can easily replace Christ’s righteousness and dependence upon Him as our life.
A couple of weeks ago, as part of our study, we ran across this gem of a passage in James 4:1-3:
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from the desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
That passage hit me like a ton of bricks. When I fight and quarrel with others, it has nothing to do with them, but it has everything to do with me. You can disagree with people and strive for justice in unjust situations. That is Godly. But, much of the strife in our lives has to do with us wanting to get our own way or to get something out of someone that is better left alone. It is motivated by our own desires. We want respect from others, so any slight is a provocation to battle and hard feelings. We want to get our way, so anytime someone supersedes us, we lash out. Our whole culture is built upon pride and arrogance, and those same attitudes often characterize our churches and denominations. But, it takes two to fight. Jesus did not succumb to this sin, because the world had no hold on Him. He strictly looked to the Father for His identity and sufficiency. He did not look to man for anything, so He had no reason to fight for respect, position, or to get His way. He entrusted Himself to God.
How many times have you been hurt by someone and then lashed out? What were you fighting for? Love? Respect? Position? To protect yourself? If we would take those desires to God instead of letting them battle within us, how much more peace would we have? What do we gain from fighting for victory over others? Does it make our relationships better? Our marriages? Our churches and families? What if we gave those situations to God and looked to Him and asked Him to meet our needs? What if when we were hurt or overlooked we brought our pain and rejection to God who bore it upon the Cross? We would be healed and filled with peace and power enough to bless those who curse us! We might actually begin to live out the Sermon on the Mount.
I know that I have written a lot about SBC issues the past week or so. But, the core of the problems that I have been talking about is relational. If we really knew each other, we could trust one another, even with some differences. If it were possible to sit down and talk to one another without trying to get our way, we might be able to hear from the Lord on issues. But, we all want our way. We grasp power and use it as we see fit. The Word of God no longer speaks authoritatively because we rationalize our actions and declare that we are in the right. At the end of the day, it is our selfishness that guides us, rather than genuine care for others or fidelity to Scripture and the Holy Spirit. The same problems pervade our churches, homes, and communities.
Why do we argue, fuss, and fight? Because of the desires that rage with each of US! My desires. Your desires. We must submit these to the Lord and allow Him to be preeminent. We must surrender to Him and ask Him to move and work as He sees fit. This doesn’t mean that we should not stand up for what is right, whether that be personally or communally, but it does mean that we should always submit our desires to the Lord in every situation. Not our will, but His will be done. If He is truly sufficient in our lives, then why are we always looking to other people or things to meet our needs?