The conflict on the outside..........

 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. 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”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. 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. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you    James 4:1-10


The fights among us................are due to the battles within us..........the conflict on the outside........is because of the war on the inside.


Boom.


What does this mean and how can it make a difference in our relationships?

In verses 1 and 2, we find the reason for the conflicts in our relationships - this translation uses the word "passions" but others use the word "pleasures" or "desires".  What they all point to is that we experience conflict because, simply put. there is something we want and if we perceive someone is blocking the fulfillment of that desire, we fight to get it.


These "passions, pleasures or desires" are not necessarily for bad things!  We might long for a well-behaved child, or a loving husband, or a good night's sleep :)  And if those desires (which we all too often label as "needs".....) are unmet, then we fight, quarrel, or get angry (which, by the way, Jesus explains in Matthew leads to murder). 


Underneath our "desires" are foundational longings for security, acceptance, significance, love.  What we might label as "wanting to be pretty" could actually be a deep God-given need for acceptance and esteem.  And it probably is.
It's not wrong to want to look pretty ( or be treated respectfully or to be appreciated or to feel safe)  but when we assume we can find a consistent source of attainment apart from Christ, well, that's when we run into trouble.  No other person can meet those needs deeply enough to satisfy us fully. 


No matter how much we might fight to get them to.


God stands ready and overwhelmingly able to meet our deepest needs.


Instead, we either fail to ask Him or we ask for the wrong thing.


Like asking for friends to make us feel better..........when He's the only one who can.


Now, granted, often He manifests Himself through the kindnesses of others.  But we gotta realize that other people are just the delivery boy.  God Himself is the Source for what we need. 


And in verses 3-5, we see that He makes that very point by allowing us to experience conflict.


Galatians 5:17 puts it this way : For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
When we think someone or something other than God can fill our need for security or significance or acceptance, in essence, we are seeking to worship it.  And God loves us too much to allow that!  He doesn't need to be "made Lord" - He IS LORD!  And all those lesser things that try and set themselves up on the throne of our heart are waging a useless war.  HE IS LORD.  He will let the battle rage but He will not step down from the Throne.


In the next few verses of this passage He explains how to resolve the conflict. How to find genuine fulfillment of those longings deep within 

Verses 6 -10 - realize who He is... And who we are not. When we humble ourselves He floods our hearts with grace. With the desire and the power to obey Him 
This grace is what we need to trust His goodness - to submit to His authority - and to withstand the one who tempts us to believe anything else but Christ can satisfy. The grace we need to draw near to Him in worship....where we will see who He is...and who we are not. The grace that shows us our sin and breaks our hearts over our unholiness. And the grace that empowers us to be made pure, to be cleansed.

The grace that is only found in the presence of The Lord. 

That's what meets our deepest needs. 

That's where and only where our soul will be exalted .

And the conflict will cease. Within ... And without.

Amen.