James 4:1-4, “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 many spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
This is a good, harsh, cutting word!! Who is James talking to? He’s talking to BELIEVERS! He’s talking to me. I will rage war and fight with other believers because of my desire for pleasure. Pleasure. Sin is pleasure…until it destroys you yet we keep on doing it. Pleasure of food, drink, praise. Pleasure in travel, clothes, houses, and acclaim…pleasure in knowledge, power, and productivity. This world is FULL of pleasure and pleasure isn’t the enemy. The enemy is loving those things more than God. It’s desiring those pleasures more than Him. It’s actually rejoicing and loving and being fulfilled by those pleasures in ways God doesn’t seem to satisfy us. This causes war in ourselves and with others. James reminds me that this cycle is endless…it will just go around and around and around. Lusting and not having, murder and coveting yet not obtaining…to me this is hell. Getting everything we “want” or desire and yet feeling nothing. This is a perfect picture of my efforts…I will go through an enormous amount of work, sacrifice, schooling, lying, social acrobatics, whatever I need to in order to receive what I want. There is one thing I won’t do easily…find ultimate pleasure and fulfillment in Jesus. Flipping that switch to where I believe that He holds everything precious, everything of worth, and everything that fulfills requires me to esteem Him, not me. Everyone wants God’s blessing without giving Him their heart…they are part-time Christians who want full-time blessings, protection, and provision…to service ourselves. James clearly shows us that this is wrong “asking”…feel free to ask God but He knows your heart so don’t be surprised when you don’t receive it. We ask for things that make this world our home, a better job, a spouse, children, a career, money, etc…my requests have far more to do with my comfort here on earth, or my position here on earth, or pleasures here on earth. This is called friendship with the world and if I am friends with the world than I am, by default, at enmity with God. That’s right. If I desire to be friends with the world then naturally I will be at odds…no, not just at odds, but I will be an enemy of God. I will be against the plans and purposes of God. I will in truthfulness, hate God AND He is against ME! Just to be clear, the God who always has been, all powerful, the One who literally holds this world together, will be fighting against me…because I forsook Him and all His glory for the plastic things of this world.
How does this happen? Simple, we esteem and place desired value on the things of this world. We are born worshippers and we will worship what esteem.
How do we fix it? See God for who & whom He is. The logic is straightforward, when I spend time recognizing the glory, the majesty, the power, the love of God and elevate and magnify Him then my heart will follow. We worship other things because we spend so much of our time focused on them and place an incredible amount of value there. That behavior should be reserved for God. Contentment is seeing the greatest value is in what you already have.