1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.(James 4:1-3)
“Mine!” It is one of the first words that kids learn. And it reveals a lot about the human heart.
Watching four boys grow up in my household, I have seen the quest for possession. They all four share the same room, the same bathroom, and many of the same toys/games. And being in a smaller house, they are around each other all the time. And though it would be better (and more joyful) if they learned to mutually share their things together, inevitably we hear throughout the day…”Hey, that’s mine!”…”Give it to me!”…”Leave it alone!”…”Leave me alone!”
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Two things according to James:
- I am not at peace in my own heart. The reason I am so desperate for things is because I am so desperate for peace. And somehow that “thing,” that object I must have, promises to bring me a level of contentment and satisfaction. Because of sin, my desires are all out of whack. And the void in my heart, filled only by God, is stuffed awkwardly with things that don’t satisfy and ultimately don’t matter. But like a thirsty man in the desert, I still crawl after mirages…and over anyone who lies in my way.
- I refuse to humbly receive the good gifts from God’s hand. I want my own things in my own way for my own satisfaction. That is the basic heart of man. Just watch kids interact together in the nursery. And as adults, we are just in a larger nursery with more toys to choose from. But God, our parent, pleads with us to stop, to rest in His provision, to enjoy His presence, and to enjoy those in the nursery with us.
I think of my own boys again. Everything that they have has been given to them. Yeah, they get a few bucks here and there for birthdays and lost baby teeth…but even that is a gift. They haven’t technically “earned” anything. They have never received a W-2 in their lives. So everything in the house is a gracious gift to them. Even the house is a gift to them. And if they awoke each day in recognition of how blessed they were, they would probably go through the day more thankful, more generous, less possessive, and less conflicted.
Oh, if only I would learn the same lesson.