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.

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. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

The first three verses of James 4 provide us with some incredible insight that could potentially change our interactions with people for the long-term. Essentially, those verses state that the thing that actually causes the tension/fights between us and others has less to do with the other person, and more with the state of our own heart. Offensive, right? When I read that, I want to argue back - "What about the way he/she treated me?" or "Who is going to give them what they deserve if I don't?” It’s easy to feel the resistance.

Also, what about verses 2-3, "you do not have because you do not ask"? You might already ask God for things all the time. Such as asking God to heal someone from cancer to asking for a good parking spot at Kroger, I’ll pretty much request anything that comes to mind. However, verse three puts a different spin on asking God for things when it states that "you do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions".

So where do we go from here? Verses 1-3 both claim that the state of our heart is what causes division in our relationships and for us to not receive the things that we ask of God. Surprisingly, the solution to this tension is relatively simple. We ultimately do not have control over our hearts, God does. So if we want our hearts to be purified, press into your relationship with Jesus and His spirit will do the work!

In response to James 4:1-3, I encourage you to pray Psalm 139:23-24 over yourself, Search me God, and know my heart! Test me and know my thoughts! Point out any offensive way in me and lead me along the path to everlasting life. Read that over yourself every day, and then watch how God moves in your heart in response to your prayers.

- Bailey Meyne