How Do We Avoid Conflict?
(2) Kill the passions at war within.
James lists several passions waging war inside us. Jealousy, covetousness, selfish ambition, and a desire to fulfill our pleasures. James says,
“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (Jas 3:14–16)
“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. 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.” (Jas 4:1–4)
Jealousy and covetousness desires what someone else possesses. Selfish ambition doesn’t consider others. Conflict is sure to follow, if we allow jealousy and selfish ambition to take root in our hearts.
Jealousy and selfish ambition corrupt our thought life. Instead of celebrating another’s victories and success, we say things like, “Why are they getting all the recognition? I deserve recognition for my work, intellect, ideas more than they do. Who do they think they are stealing my glory? Taking the spotlight from me? Don’t they know who I am?”
When these sins take root in our heart, we will do whatever it takes to get what we want. Degrade others. Point our their failures instead of their successes. Turn a cold shoulder. Gossip or slander our opponent. Verbally or physically attack another, or even worse.
God doesn’t call us to strive for our desires, but His. He doesn’t call us to jealousy, but to turn from jealousy. He doesn’t call us to fulfill our sinful passions, but to do all we can to fulfill His will. It’s not easy. Our passions are at war in us desiring to please our sinful flesh.
How do we kill the passions at war within?
- (1) Pray for the Lord to strengthen and purify us.
- “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (Jas 4:8)
- (2) Repent, turn from sin, and resist Satan’s temptations.
- “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (Jas 4:7)
- “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (Jas 4:8–10)
- (3) Recognize our worldly desires put us at enmity with God.
- “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. 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”?” (Jas 4:4–5)
- (4) Realize the root of jealousy and selfish ambition is pride and a desire to be accepted.
- “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God.” (Jas 4:6–7)
- (5) Turn to the gospel in humility recognizing our acceptance from God is greater.
- “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”” (Jas 4:6)
- “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (Jas 4:10)
The gospel reminds us Christ is supreme. He reigns as King. Christ is the greatest, not us. We are sinners who need a Savior, leaving us nothing to boast in but Christ. He is the all righteous, all powerful, almighty King, who went to the cross to die in our place in order to restore our relationship with the Father. When we believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are accepted by the Father, and our relationship is made right.
Meditating on the gospel should kill our pride, as well as it should teach and remind us their is no greater acceptance than what we gain in Christ. Man’s acceptance is not necessary, its irrelevant, especially, when we realize we have the greatest acceptance of all – God’s.
The next post in this series suggests we can avoid conflict by being a peacemaker.
Question for Reflection
- Are you Jealous of another’s position?