PAGE BY PAGE THROUGH THE BOOK OF JAMES: CHAPTER 4
James first talks about dangerous desires in this chapter. He uses words like “battle” and “kill” and “covet.” None of those are good words. James gives us the picture that a battle is going on inside us because we want what we want and we can’t have what we want. We want to be right. We want to be heard. We want the other person to agree with us. We want the other person to act like us. We can also want what other people have… which is what James is highlighting in particular. We want the same house, car, or clothes. We want friends like them. We want the job they have. We ‘want’ and because of that desire a quarrel begins.
We have anger because we don’t have what we want and it causes an argument.
We have frustration because we can’t be like someone else and it causes a struggle.
We lack patience with another person and it comes out because they aren’t doing what we want.
Dangerous desires cause quarrels and arguments because they are feelings that get out of control and spiral into something else. I started feeling one way and then as a result acted in another way several steps down the road. James says watch out for dangerous desires.
You ask wrongly (verse 3) James tells his readers (and us). It is true we ask God for many things, but in the asking how much do we consider our intentions and our desires? Do we think of our double-mindedness or our aggression for simply meeting our personal desires? If we do not consider such things, we will not have real relational peace with God.
James reminds his readers fellowship with the world is a terrible friendship. Those that chase after their desires rather than God’s Will is in fact enmity with God. This is the reason God does not answer many prayers… because of the human disposition for self. Knowing this, James says we should be cleansing ourselves of enmity-potential behavior because the only proper response to being loved is love. God loves us. We should want to love Him in return.
James’ words are so practical. He says with authority, “there is only one lawgiver and judge.” James here teaches it is only truly affective to do what God says. Doing what God says leads to blessings and life, whereas, judging even based on God’s law leads to punishments and death. James makes it clear everyone transgresses the law. See also Romans 3:23 and also Ecclesiastes 7:20.
God gives instructions (law) not simply to judge others or ourselves, but to make way to forgive and live. Paul speaks of this in Romans chapter 2 when pointing to those Gentiles who do God’s law because it is written on their hearts. With such people, the Prophets predict God would make a covenant.
God leads. We follow. God leads. We follow. We are to commit ourselves to practically live out what God has written on our hearts and lead others in the right direction. God is in command, not man. God is in command, not us. Yet, He does lead through His children… Jesus being the first fruit. The Godman Jesus Christ leads the way for humanity to part take in God’s Will. James says don’t just hear Jesus, but do. Likewise, do not just enforce the word of God on others, but lovingly live it out. That is what really helps others. Without love, we are just making noise.