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Janet's Corner

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Lesson 18: Real Faith is NOT Selfish

James 4:1-3

James is calling us to give evidence through our lives to what we believe

He is calling us to mature in Christ – to become Christ-like.

Wandering off the path of maturity?

He is alerting us to those things that will lead us astray, taking us off that path of maturity or perfection. What leads us astray is sin. When we miss the mark, we sin. We act independent from God. We are off the path. Sin is mentioned 9 times in the book of James.

1:15 - ends in spiritual death, not literally, but perhaps to a relationship, or to someone’s virginity.

2:9 convicted by the law of love as sinners if we show favoritism

4:8 calls us as believers to cleanse our hands as sinners. James is talking to believers and calls us sinners. We are able to wander away.

4:17 when we don’t do what we know is right to do, we sin.

Those are just four of the times that James refers to sin.

The last time is in 5:19…"My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins." We have the potential to wander away. God uses others and His truth to being us back. There is a way back!

In light of that truth, James begins to address the conflicts that we have and their sources. He wants us to walk in His wisdom which leads to righteousness and peace, not confusion and evil practices.

James gives us some questions and answers and then some imperatives or commands to find the solution.

Read James 4:1-3

Question: What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?

Any quarrels or conflicts that are making you miserable and others around you miserable? Quarrels here refers to an ongoing state of hostility. Conflicts refers to fights or outbursts. So we are being asked to look at what is causing that state of ongoing hostility with sudden outbursts of fighting among us - in our friendships, in our homes, in the body of Christ. We need to determine their source so they can be dealt with properly. Those quarrels and conflicts have a root. What is the root or the source of them? What do they come out from?

Answer in question form: "Is it your pleasures that wage war within your members?" Remember he’s is warning us not to stray from the truth. These believers must have really been having a hard time getting along with each other. So did others in the New Testatment. Paul addresses two women in Phillipi who were arguing. The Corinthians were competing with each other in public meetings and suing each other. Is there anybody that you have conflicts or quarrels with in your life?

James really puts the fact on the table – aren’t you being selfish? Looking for your selfish desires for that relationship or situation to be met? Looking for what will please you? The root word for pleasures is "hedon". Hedonism is living for yourself. These quarrels and conflicts you are having – could they becoming from your selfishness? Perhaps it is not a matter of your environment or even the other people around you that are involved. It’s what you want that’s getting in the way. Your "wanter" needs to be checked.


Problem with wrong desires in verse 2. These desires are described. Some lust and do not have; so will commit murder. They want what they don’t have and will kill for it. Those strong passions that they have are driving them. I don’t believe that James is referring to those who were literally murdering each other, but through their attitudes of anger and hatred they were. When Rick Warren the author of "Purpose Driven Life" was interviewed on Larry King Live after the apprehension of Brian Nichols, he was asked the question of why he didn’t condemn Brian for the murders he committed. Rick Warren responded that Jesus said any one who hates his brother is a murderer. He could not throw the first stone at Brian because he has hated others. Do you hold hatred in your heart toward another. Doesn’t it just perpetuate that state of hostility among you?

James goes on to say that they were envious and did not get what they wanted. They wanted what was not theirs and were willing to fight for it.

We can desire things, recognition, happiness, or love. Those desires aren’t being filled by others. Perhaps in a marriage your husband doesn’t know how to love you – he can’t fill that desire, so you fight, because there is that underlying hostility toward him. Maybe you are looking for recognition. You have been rejected time and time again in your life. The disciples in Mark 10 experienced this. They wanted a throne on either side of Jesus in heaven. Jesus told them that was left up to the Father. They were not just looking for eternal recognition, but recognition for themselves at that time. Some look for happiness. Let me quote Warren Wiersbe. "People who are at war with themselves because of selfish desires are always unhappy people. They never enjoy life. Instead of being thankful for the blessings they do have, they complain about the blessings they do not have. They cannot get along with other people because they are always envying others for what they have and do. They are always looking for that "magic something" that will change their lives, when the real problem is within their own hearts." Any problems with your own heart?

Problem with asking for help : Verse2b- 3: "You do not have because you do not ask." Not only was their selfish desires, but selfish praying. The first thing that was evident to James was that they weren’t asking for what they needed. Perhaps out of ignorance or unbelief of an attitude of self-sufficiency. Maybe they didn’t ask because they knew they shouldn’t since there desires were for there own interests.

Secondly, they may have been asking God and didn’t received because they were asking with wrong motives – they intended to spend it on themselves anyway! It wasn’t for God’s glory, his pleasure, but for themselves! In God’s plan, it’s not all about you. It’s all about God!

Who are you living for? The question is just that when the root of quarrels and conflicts is identified as selfishness.

II Corinthians 5:15 is a key motivational verse in reference to putting aside this selfishness that we get so caught up in. "And he (Jesus) died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." Who are you living for? If it is self, you may be the source of the conflicts in your life. You may be making it miserable for yourself and others around you. It is only Jesus that will set you free…Romans 7 says that the flesh, our sinful nature, has its pleasures and we live with a battle inside of us, but the answer is Jesus! (Romans 7:24). We are to walk in the power of the Holy Sprit and not gratify the desires of our sinful nature as Paul says in Galatians.

What source are you going to so that your desires are met? First we need to examinie whether or not or desires are self-oriented or God-oriented. Asking God to reveal our needs versus our wants in his eyes. Check that"wanter!"

Philippians 4:19 Do you have wants or needs? God is your source –your rich supplier! God will supply all your needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus. God is enough!

Ask the one who promised to supply all your needs.

God is the husband to the husbandless – to the one who doesn’t have one or who isn’t satisfied by the one she has.

God is the giver of all good things- you don’t have because it isn’t time yet or God knows it wouldn’t be good for you! Or he has another plan for you!

You are not recognized by the people who should recognize you. They even push you away and reject you – You are precious to Him – He has chosen you. Dig into the scriptures and find a verse that will be Spirit and life to you and memorize it!

Romans 8:32 – He who did not spare his own Son will freely give us all things!

God is enough!!!

Are you quarreling or in the midst of conflicts?

Maybe you are not struggling with this right now. Remember this is a warning for us, so we don’t go astray. We need to keep our "wanter" in check. Selfishness is a heart attitude that determines your behavior. So examine the externals to see what is going on inside. It goes back to last week’s lesson. Your heart is the well spring of life. You find yourself getting negative toward your husband or yelling at your children or you’ve begun criticizing things that are going on around you – even in the church. Always quarreling or in the midst of conflicts? Look at your heart.

What’s God’s solution to selfishness?

James gives us a list of imperatives in verses 7-10 - our God-given solution to this state of selfishness.. We’ll look at these imperatives more closely in a couple of weeks. The truth is that God in His Word gives us solutions and we need to apply them to our lives. This is one very clear list for us.

Submit yourself to God- place your self under his rule/authority. Resist Satan – he’ll try to keep you selfish. Draw near to God - you have access to the throne! Cleanse your hand and purify your heart. Ask God for a Godly sorrow. Humble your SELF - Bow your knee, dying to your self and allowing God to lift you up!