Humble Submission to God Resolves Conflict

James 4:1-10

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.”[c]

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

It’s been three weeks since we last spoke, and we are in the heart of the Book of James. He is talking about Godly vs. Worldly wisdom. Worldly wisdom is full of selfish ambition and bitter jealousy. People want what others have, recognize that life is not fair and it makes them bitter and hateful and they justify their behavior based on the unfairness of it all. And the rest of folks are working to get ahead of their neighbor, they exert themselves selfishly, competing and striving without consideration for others. The world sees this as the way to act. Not completely all of the time, that would be too obvious. But, when you find yourself in conflict, you will find these characteristics in place. God instead wants us to be pure hearted, seeking peace, gently, merciful and willing to submit. This wisdom is from God and is not found in the world. And it takes faith to act in this manner! We have to believe that God is at work on our behalf and we have to love and serve and support one another along the way.

In today’s passage, James examines the end point of worldly wisdom: conflict. Cain kills Abel, Lamech brags about his treacherous aggressive behavior and we are off and running.

  1. Fights and Quarrels v.1-3


  1. The result of frustrated loves

        Love is not jealous. What is jealousy?

  1. feeling or showing envyof someone or their achievements and         advantages.
  2. fiercelyprotective or vigilant of one’s rights or possessions.

I want something, I don’t have something. Someone else has      what I want. What comes next?

Why do we not have what we want?

  1. Some desires are frustrated because they are         inappropriate.

Example: We have different personalities, gifting, mental and     physical abilities, social background, families, incomes growing up etc. These are all things that make us different and see the    world in different ways.

Until we learn to trust God and His goodness and love when we    are not getting what we desire, we will be dangerous and        destructive concerning what we do have.


  1. Some desires are frustrated and we need to learn patience.


  1. Some desires are frustrated because God does not want it for us.


  1. Some desires are frustrated because it is good for us.


We sacrifice what we have for what we do not have!

Whether or not we are acting in this manner, we will run into       people who are acting in this manner and it will not be pleasant.

  1. The result of not loving God first

God has responses for us when our desires are not met.

It starts with seeking His wisdom and receiving His        discipline. And what needs discipline the most in us is our   hearts!

It is not an understatement to say that all of our approach to         sanctification relates to the issue of managing our desires!


  1. The result of God saying “No” (or not yet)

When we find our desires running contrary to God’s desires, we   can find ourselves frustrated. We are allowed to ask God for     change. Think of Jesus in the Garden. Three times He asks God.        But each time He asks, He asks in humility! Not my will, but Your   will be done!

It is very important that we see God as sovereign in all of our      lives.



  1. Be Careful about Your Friends v.4-5


  1. Friendship with the world is hostility with God

Bitter jealousy and selfish ambition: This is the world’s wisdom. This produces the fights and quarrels, obviously!


What makes friends? Common interests and loves. What is your greatest love? It must be love for God. And that love is not a feeling. There is feeling attached to it, but you should view it just like a marriage.

Love is first and foremost a commitment to a relationship with   different rights and responsibilities. Love in the will. Love God   with all our strength!

Marriages are different relationships because our commitments    are different.

Love is secondly about being friends. Common interests and life pursuits. In marriage, you build a life together. Work, home,        children, goals etc. You spend time communicating and building your common life together. Love God with all of your mind!

Love thirdly is about intimacy. Emotional and physical    bonding. Excitement over time spent together and giving   ourselves to each other in unique ways. Love with emotion.

In a marriage, this is the order of importance and necessity.


God won’t stop being God because we want something different from what He wants.

Saul and the Amalekites.

Moses hitting the rock part two.

David numbering his men.


We can have a commitment to living like the world. We are born into the world, so apart from intentionally changing, this is what we will be doing.

We can adopt worldly standards, fixing our minds on what the culture around us says is good.

We can get our emotional satisfaction from accomplishments of pride, possessions and money and pleasure.


  1. Friendship equates to love and loyalty


Over and over again: The things of the world as appropriate desires and motives: Pleasure, Possessions/ Money and Prideful accomplishments and pursuits.


If anyone loves the world, the love the Father is not in them.

You can’t serve both God and money, or pleasure or pride.

A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

Do not desire to be rich. Those who do fall into a trap!


God must be our ultimate love! God is the anchor of our hearts that keep us from destroying ourselves and others in pursuit of desire.


  1. God desires His Spirit to rule your heart

        We are not left with an empty statement of what we are not to be! Instead, we are called to pursue life in the spirit.

        John 7: 37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”[c] 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Rivers of living water. A life giving spring that wells up to eternal life. A source of managing our hearts and desire that leaves us healthy and full of life.

Fasting for pleasure

Giving for greed

Service and sacrifice to God and others for pride


III. Humility as the Solution to Heart Problems v.6-10

  1. Humbly confess God’s standard and your sin

Confess that God’s standard is what we need for our lives.


Confess when we do not meet God’s standards.


  1. Humbly come near and submit to God

We hide from God in God.

We need to build our love for God through obedience and gratitude!

Think about how you can live in a manner that makes God happy. This begins by being grateful!! What will gratitude do to jealousy and selfish ambition?  Think about your own children and relate that to God as Father. What do you need from your kids, especially when they are not mature? What do you want from your kids?


  1. Humbly reset your reactions

Cleanse hands: Do things with your hands that are not related   to jealousy and selfish ambition.

Purify hearts: Take ownership of your desires and be willing to fight against desire over time. Do not feed desires that are not in         line with God’s will!

Grieve and mourn over sin (blessed are those who mourn).

Submit your bodies, mind, will and emotions to God’s will   and desires for you.

We need to fight the battles inside of us that need fighting!