James 4:1-3 - What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.
I started in ministry when I was only 18 years old. I have served as a children’s minister in a large church, a youth minister in a medium sized church, and as pastor of both small and medium sized congregations. In my many years in these various capacities, I have seen many families that were torn apart by internal struggles. Though they loved each other, they just could not overcome their negative feelings toward one another. Some families broke apart completely, and no longer have any connections. Other families remain connected, but tension lies just under the surface, ready to erupt at any moment. I have often wondered why people who love each other have so many struggles with each other.
James 4:1 answers the question of why we have struggles and conflict with other people in our lives. This verse identifies the root of these conflicts as the cravings that are inside all of us.
What do we crave? We crave acceptance. We crave love. We crave control. We crave power. We crave recognition. We crave security. We crave both connection and independence, which makes us feel conflicted internally. Some of these cravings are normal and may not lead to conflict with others. But some of these cravings will cause conflict because the other people in our lives crave different things, or sometimes the same things but in different ways.
While there should always be enough love to go around for all members of the family, it is impossible for everyone in the family to be in control. While every member of the family should be accepted for who they are, not everyone in the family will have equal power or independence. When we forget this important truth and our cravings collide with the cravings of others, the result is always conflict.
What is the solution? For non-Christian families, I am not sure there is a great solution. They will just have to negotiate the situation the best they can and hope it works out. But for Christian families, the solution is to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus (Matthew16:24-27). As Christians, our goal should not be our own power, our own control, or our own agenda. Our goal should be to lift up Jesus in every area of our lives. That can be hard in the midst of a heated discussion with those we love. But it is the only path to lasting happiness and peace. Any other path will lead to constant conflict with those we love.
The next time our cravings begin to collide with the cravings of someone else, we should take a deep breath and ask ourselves what response would glorify the Lord. Then, as hard as it may be, we should choose that response. Though it might not result in instant gratification, it will produce long term healthy results. After all, we will be part of our family for the rest of our lives. A future without constant conflict sure sounds better than one with constant conflict.
Lord, help us not to create conflict with others because we allow our own sinful desires to rule us. Amen.
This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link: