I have discovered that few Christians genuinely live in peace. We have so much going on with constant strife between each other. Colossians 3:15-16 challenges us to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” The word, “umpire”, is a derivative of the Greek word, “peace”, found in this verse. The implication here is that “peace” determines if what we are doing is “safe” or “out”. God expects us to have a deep-seated peace with Christ “dwelling” in our hearts restfully. Philippians 4:6&7 commands us “to not be anxious in anything” and to consistently experience “the peace that passes understanding”; however, that is not the norm of today’s world.
James 4:1-2b pictures more accurately the experience of many of us. Verse 1 asks a couple of questions, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” Inner turmoil birthed by selfish desires battling within each of us erupts into fights and quarrels among us. Verse 2 succinctly gets to the cause and effect in our lives and relationships as ugly as they may be, “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.” We selfishly “desire” and “covet” which destroys our relationships ending up in hurtful, ugly, bitter, painful quarrels and fights.
We try to control others and our environments by attempting to overpower or manipulate each other. When unsuccessful, we spew out poison. Let me assure you that not only does this venom injure the adults, it is toxic to precious children inside many of our homes who are within earshot of our arguments. It is like taking a fist and blasting our kids in the core of their emotions. Let’s never forget that our kids will have an impression of their parents carried the rest of their lives. You determine what that impression looks like. Not trying to be scary here but each of us will give an account to Jesus how we have nurtured and loved our kids.
Notice how closely the above verses parallel the first half of John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” “The thief” refers to the devil. We could take this verse and insert it into James 4 above and the behaviors are the same. Why? When we operate selfishly, we become an expression of the devil with the end result being ugliness.
Proverbs 16:18 declares bluntly, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Ouch! So true!
Later in chapter 4 of James verses 7&8 are the antidote to the argumentative poison spewed in verses 1-2b above, “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.” These two verses are straightforward and crystal clear. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, throw the devil out of your life and keep him out, open up the door of your heart to Jesus and He will come into you with close, sweet, unselfish fellowship leading to the peace that passes all understanding. Then, you will see a refreshing kindness, patience, goodness and gentleness in your relationships.