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.
I wrote a post about how covetousness is the gateway to all sin. In it I talked about how it is commandment number ten and leads you right up from nine to six. And here, in a letter from James to the Jewish Christians outside of Palestine, my thoughts are confirmed.
You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.
I found this verse to be very interesting, especially how simply James expresses it in his letter, and I found the second half of these verses even more interesting.
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 speaks of passions.
What are passions?
- Strongly and barely controllable emotions.
- A state of outburst of strong emotion.
- Intense sexual love.
- An intense desire or enthusiasm for something.
- A thing arousing enthusiasm.
Passions can be worldly, and definition number 4 above says that best “an intense desire or enthusiasm for something”. That sounds like covetousness to me. And there lies what covetousness does to us.
James says you don’t ask or better yet, you don’t ask for the right things. True then and true today.
Sometimes we pray for what we want, what we covet.
You can say, no I pray for good things like world peace, help my family, help my neighbor, or help me be a better person. But the problem is we do that because we want to feel better. We have an intense desire to want to feel better about ourselves, so we pray. But after we pray we do nothing but sit back and wait for God to make it happen.
Then when it doesn’t go our way we curse God and decide there is no God because we asked but it wasn’t given.
How to ask and what to ask for has been simply and clearly defined by Christ. In Matthew 6:7-13 Christ tells us how and what to ask.
And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Christ then gives us the short, simple and all-encompassing Lord’s Prayer.
What does Christ tell us to ask for?
- Sustenance – Physical and spiritual
- Forgiveness – to forgive and be forgiven
- Help From Temptation – temptation of the world or covetousness
To ask for more is vanity.
Ask as Christ instructed and you will receive these three things.
The rest is up to you.
The rest is up to you to get up off your ass and do the work with the gifts God has given to you.
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