The Expository Files


Behind All Fighting - Poor Attitudes

 James 4:1-4

External conflict always means, there are some wrong attitudes somewhere. Conflict is not the result of some sort of mystical fate or "karma." It cannot be explained away as simply chance and time, bringing different personalities together. External conflict always means, somebody has an attitude issue (maybe more than one). This is true on the international scale, within nations, in communities, institutions, local churches, marriages and families. External conflict is always evidence of internal trouble. About this, James 3:16 is clear: "For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there."

What does this mean? When you find yourself in conflict with someone (in the middle of a fight, or ugly division - maybe before the fight breaks out), FIRST - examine yourself. Are you thinking clearly, objectively and according to truth. Read James 3:17,18 and use that to measure your heart. Take full inventory of motives and methods.

Or as James said - "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures," (Jas. 4:1-3).

Albert Barnes, On Jas. 4:1-4 - Those corrupt passions which have their seat in the flesh, the [writer] says are the causes of war. Most of the wars which have occurred in the world can be traced to what the apostle here calls lusts. The desire of booty, the love of conquest, the ambition for extended rule, the gratification of revenge, these and similar causes have led to all the wars that have desolated the earth. Justice, equity, the fear of God, the spirit of true religion, never originated any war, but the corrupt passions of men have made the earth one great battle-field. If true religion existed among all men, there would be no more war. War always supposes that wrong has been done on one side or the other, and that one party or the other, or both, is indisposed to do right. The spirit of justice, equity, and truth, which the religion of Christ would implant in the human heart, would put an end to war forever.

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 14.11; November 2007