Tuesday May 3, 2022
Scripture James 4: What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 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. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 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.
Life Lesson: Our personal desires can be a destructive influence in us, moving us away from God or they can be a wellspring of blessings that enrich our faith and our witness!
– In yesterday’s lesson we concluded with the question, “How can we possibly know if what we are praying for is based in selfishness?” This has been a source of tremendous doubt for so many in the church. James states the issue this way, “3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” This question of wrong motives has plagued many believers when going to God in prayer unduly.
– Many of us might reason that our asking in prayer is often times selfish because we are asking God to do something for us. This does not naturally follow. We need to look more carefully at the context to gain a better understanding and comprehension of what James means when he says these things. Contextually, the issue becomes quite obvious, James is speaking about the source of divisive contention within the church and that source is selfish desires such as envy. A kind of, “I’ll get what I want no matter what, or no matter who gets hurt” attitude. Those living this way are motivated by greed and selfish ambition. Such individuals, when they pray are focused on themselves, not on the Lord. The Lord for such people is only a means to an end rather than the source of life and joy itself!
– So how can we know? You won’t find the answer in religious activity or adherence to specific rules and regulations; the answer is found in our relationship with Christ. While the multitudes are looking everywhere else for the answers to their needs, the child of God looks to the Lord! For many prayer is a last ditch effort, but for the faithful prayer is their first option!
– There is a marked difference between those whose primary concern is fulfilling their own pleasures, as James notes above, and those whose primary concern is pleasing God! We can choose to be a friend of the world, or we can choose, as Abraham did, to be a friend of God by living by faith and being led by God’s Spirit. The psalmist wrote, Psalm 37: 4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” While unbelievers chase after the desires of their hearts, the faithful believer focuses first and foremost and his/her relationship with God. The Lord is their greatest delight! Such as these choose to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness knowing with certainty that God will give them the desires of their hearts, that God will generously give them these other concerns as well in His time! Never be afraid to ask, seek and knock when you have made knowing God your highest priority!