"What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?" (James 4:1)
When we consider the conflicts we face in life, the realization that "I am part of the problem" is hard to swallow. While we may concede that this truth is a possibility, we usually dismiss it as a real solution. We inevitably conclude, "No one else is going to change, so why should I?"
The realization that I am part of the problem is hard to swallow.
The gospel says that you are the problem in your life, but (and this is truly Good News!) God has solved that problem through Jesus' death and resurrection. Through the biblical process of placing our faith in Jesus and repenting, God grants us the Holy Spirit--the power for this new life in Jesus that we have been reborn into. The Holy Spirit controls this new life as we "die daily" (1 Corinthians 15:31) to our previous way of life and inclinations and live under new authority by submitting to the Lordship of Jesus.
The implications of a life without the control of the Holy Spirit is a life that is characterized by blaming and fighting and one that inevitably leads to conflict, harm and hurt. In James 4, we find this same issue a problem for early Christians. Like many of us, they were dealing with conflict and quarrels that have their root in spiritual adultery and spiritual pride.
A life that is characterized by blaming and fighting that inevitably leads to conflict, harm and hurt.
Spiritual adultery is demonstrated in us when we say we love God yet hate our brother in any given moment.
Spiritual pride manifests itself where conflict arises and we assume that the blame lies anywhere else but with us.
Conflict often reveals that the Spirit is not in control of our lives, and that we are in fact still living our old lives the old way. Therefore, how we as Christians respond to conflict speaks volumes about the Spirit's control in our lives. Dr. Lincoln explained, "Right response to conflict can only be handled in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not something that we can change with a few tips here and there."
Right response to conflict can only be handled in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not something that we can change with a few tips here and there.
- Dick Lincoln
By thinking about conflict in this way, we remember that the purpose of the Christian life is to find the grace to live by the Spirit. We do this through continued humility and submission to God…there is no other way.
PUT TRUTH INTO PRACTICE
Think of 1 to 3 sources of conflict in your life.
Get up every morning and say, "God I am so mad with…. I don't know what to do, but I want to be humble before you, I want to know what I can do about it in the power of the Holy Spirit. Help me identify spiritual adultery or pride in my life."
Then read James 4:1-10 and pray, "God, would you help me understand this in my heart and impress upon me that I am the one who needs to change?"
Watch the sermon from August 31