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Answer to Question 1

Where do fights and quarrels come from?

In Chapter 4, James puts on his psychologist's hat. First he poses the question, "Where do all the fights and quarrels...come from?" One would think, "If we only knew the answer to this question we could solve most of the world's problems."

Yet, James does answer this question for us. The world need only listen. "They come from your desires for pleasure, which are constantly fighting within you." James sees that war begins in the heart of every person. It is our selfish desires that create trouble. He says, "You want things, but you cannot have them, so you are ready to kill." Perhaps he has worded this strongly, but indeed, he is correct. When we covet or desire something too much, then we commit all manner of sins to attain it.

It is no sin to work hard to achieve the good. It is a sin to work to achieve evil. It is even a sin to allow yourself to envy the good fortune or the hard work of others. The ten commandments do not merely prohibit stealing and adultery, but explicitly state that "Thou shalt not COVET thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not COVET thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his ox nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's." (Exodus 20:17)

Searching deep into the core of our minds, we can usually find the root of our disagreement with others is the result of our desire for something juxtaposed against that other person's desire for the same thing. Fights over money or possessions are often grievous, bitter and long-lasting.

Is it wrong to wrangle over such things? Yes and NO! James tells us in verse 2 that "You do not have what you want because you have not asked God for it." He goes on, "And when you ask, you do not receive it because your motives are bad." Make certain when you ask for God's help that your motives are pure. It is not wrong to fight for what is yours by right. Nevertheless, remember that worldly possessions are far less important than your relationships with your fellow human beings. James says, "To be the world's friend is to be God's enemy." (James 4:4)

In James 4:5, he sums up this idea with the quote from proverbs: "The spirit that God placed in us is filled with fierce desires, but the grace that God gives is even stronger." God made us vibrant and lively people. This is a blessing, but it sometimes creates conflicts both within ourselves and with others. The Grace of God will help us to overcome these desires.

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