1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 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. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
These verses really make an interesting observation about the human condition. James is teaching here that much of the strife we face in this life is do to discontentment that arises from pursing the “stuff” of this world. His contention is that our passions and desires for earthly things create in us covetousness and we end up looking at others as people who have the stuff we don’t or as people who are beneath us because of they lack the stuff we have. James also points out that even though the Father is poised to give us everything we ask for we fail to ask Him or we ask Him with motives that are selfish or tied to our own earthly desires, therefore we do not receive.
For me these verses are a renewed call to battle the flesh and the sinful earthly desires that it generates. We live in a culture that measures success by what we can obtain and possess, but the Scripture never endorses this type of life style. The Scriptures teach us that God alone is our inheritance and reconciliation and relationship with Him is the goal. For us saved by Jesus, the challenge is to find contentment in that reality, not worrying about money, food, or clothing because our relationship with God promises peace in provision in all circumstances.
Heavenly Father, I pray for your peace and for freedom from chasing after stuff or status. Forgive me where my own desires have muddled the contentment and peace that you have provided me. Help me rest better in that reality today. In Jesus name. Amen.