Why We Argue

Been in a fuss lately?

Maybe it was with your spouse or kids. Could’ve been a co-worker or neighbor. Maybe even someone at church.

It doesn’t really matter what it was about, or who the person was, but I can predict a couple of things:

One, it was unpleasant, and two, somebody was being selfish. Those two facts are amazingly consistent.
Something pretty bad was going on in the church James was writing to, and he gives us several hints. I think you’ll agree with me that some things haven’t changed at all since James wrote these words two thousand years ago:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 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. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions (James 4:1-3).

Those of you who are married know what it’s like to argue, at least occasionally. If you’ve got a sibling, you’ve been in a few dozen (or hundred?). If you’ve got more than one kid, you’ve refereed a quarrel or two. If you’ve ever had a job or interacted with other human beings closely, you’ve had a disagreement.

In other words, if you’re alive you know what James is talking about.

But it’s interesting to hear what he says about the cause of quarrels. It’s usually not just a difference of opinion, and often it’s not about right and wrong.

It’s about the sinful stuff inside of us. It’s about selfishness and lust and covetousness. It’s about the fact that we like to get what we want.

So let’s pray about this. Ask God to remove your selfishness. Ask him to use your desires to seek him, not things that hurt you and others.

We can’t fix other people, and it’s frustrating and futile even to try—even (especially?) on Facebook or Twitter. But we can submit to God as he works on our flaws. Letting him work on our selfishness will help all of our relationships go more smoothly.


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