Verse of the Day Devotion: James 4:1
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?” – James 4:1
James in this section of his letter asks an important question that people have struggled with throughout history. Why do you quarrel with each other? I suspect this question was not asked out of the blue, but probably because they were actually arguing amongst themselves. He could have come right out and told them what the answer was, but he chose to answer the question with a rhetorical question which would grab the attention of his readers. He said to them, do they not come from within yourselves? Do they not come from your inward desires? And do not these desires and pleasure wage war among your members?
Now, are these pleasures at war within our own bodies as individuals or within the body of believers? I am sure it is within the body of believers because of the first part of the verse. “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?” James 4:1a. Many believe that it is the battle of temptation within us, which may be the source of our desires. However, the quarrels are referring to among the brethren where one person believes one thing and another believes something else. Or one feels they should do option A and another wants option B. And when both sides desire their own way over the others, with no desire to acquiesce even a little, then quarrels arise. The general problem here was that they all wanted what THEY wanted. It did not matter what someone else wanted, or what the other felt inside. They were more interested in pleasing themselves rather than others.
This is something we see in the corporate world. I remember several instances when, at my last contract position in Indiana, we would meet up and discuss current projects. What started off as just telling everyone where we were at on projects, ended up with everyone talking about how they were right and everyone else was wrong. They were attempting to show how they should be candidates for promotions over everyone else. Unfortunately, Christians many times have adopted similar views. I have been in many a meeting where arguments start when people start pushing their ideas about how things should be done, with various positions being taken. And each believed their idea was the only one that made sense.
It is sad to see this occur among Christian brothers and sisters because most of the time each is arguing their position because they want theirs to be accepted so they can look good to the others. However, all we do should be for the betterment of all, not just ourselves. Look back to our focus verse. “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?” James 4:1. In the church as well as everywhere else, quarrels and conflicts come when we look to please ourselves at the expense of another. Paul put it best when he wrote, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4. This should always be our focus. We can present our ideas, but we should never argue and quarrel about them. And if we find ourselves in a position where a conflict is forming, we need to stop and pray for God’s guidance. Then, start the conversation again but remembering Philippians 2:3-4 above. We must stay at peace no matter what. This is what God wants, and is this not what we should want and work toward as well?
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.