Often, we only look at the fruit of our lives to try to determine our problems. Most people who walk into our ministry to get spiritual help are looking for one or two pieces of a large puzzle that completes their lives as they see it. “If I can stop my stinking drinking…then everything else will be alright.” Or another wishes she could overcome a drug problem and all will be well. The truth is…they probably need a whole new puzzle.
Conflict is so prevalent in our society today. Many homes are filled with strife and contention. Many churches are edgy and filled with restlessness. Our world has become an excellent place to fear all, when God says, “Fear not!” Advertising, media, news, and listening to other people’s fears have caused many Christians to join the world in its quest for control. We’ve come to think we can control our daily lives and future by making choices based on fear. God tells us He will take care of us and that we are to trust in Him.
James 4:1-3, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
All conflict begins with the root cause of selfish desires. Covetousness takes root in our heart at a young age. Once, Abraham Lincoln was seen walking with his 2 sons and both the boys were crying. A passerby asked the President what was wrong with his boys. “Exactly what’s wrong with the whole world,” said Lincoln, “I have three walnuts and each boy wants two.” The cause of our fighting and quarrels is your desires within you.
James continues to identify two of the root causes that every human struggles with at some point in their lives. In verse 2, he describes the desire to have and in verse 3, he describes the desire to feel. Proverbs 13:10 reminds us that contention only comes by pride. There can only be one of two root systems that a life is built on – pleasing God or pleasing self.
A life of faith in Christ and God is built on contentment. Christ is all I need. As we look at the characteristics of who God is and who we are in Christ, we find great contentment in the sufficiency of Christ. He is all we need. To know the truth, and let that truth make you free is centered on changing our belief system from me to HE.
The only other alternative is a life based on fear. Living a life that is covetous is my only resort. There are people inside of churches as well as outside of churches who live out this vicious cycle of destruction. Conflict resolution is then limited to one of the following:
My Way – “I will have control.” This way of thinking is consumed with gaining control. My way is the only way. This is usually not seen by the one so focused on themselves. It brings a lot of conflict and baggage.
No Way ~ “I’ll just chuck it all .” This is the attitude of one who has no direction in their lives. Pain and the root of bitterness as distorted their thinking to where they don’t even try to reason anymore.
Your Way ~ “I’ll just cave in.” This attitude is one who has a victim mentality. They are so focused on what they have lived through; they have stopped living out of fear. They may be obedient on the outside, but on the inside it is empty and vanity.
Half Way ~ “I’ll compromise.” In an attempt to please others and still have what I want to have, I will be double minded and unstable in all my ways. The root attitude is still my choices.
The answers, for coping with conflict, is getting down to the heart of the issue, and the issue is the heart. Proverbs remind us that out of the heart are the issues of life. Today may we follow the outline of James:
1. Give all to God,
2. Say no to Satan,
3. Move yet closer to God,
4. Walk in the forgiveness He offers.
James 4:7-8, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”