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Click here to read James 4 on BibleGateway.com

84gnOrZ2yx-14Let’s pretend for a moment that you don’t get along with someone. That may be tough to imagine, since you may get along with everyone you know (coughbaloneycough), but for the sake of argument, just play along. You may “imagine” that they are constantly trying to undermine you; you may “pretend” that someone you know tries to make you look bad to the boss to make themselves look good; you may “picture” this fictional person, and you can feel the tension rising within you (good, good. I can feel your anger.)

Now here’s the tricky part. Ask yourself why? Why do you go out of your way to avoid that person? Is it because they are really doing something that’s so bad? Imagine for a moment (this time, actually imagine) that this was actually someone else doing the same thing. Let’s say that instead of Bertha taking credit for your reports, it was your favorite actor? Let’s say it was that NFL quarterback that you idolize? What if it was that singer or musician that you follow around to go to all their concert like some legalized stalker? Is it really what this person is asking or doing that is so bad? Or is there something else driving your frustration?


James 4 gives us a little insight: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” What they’re doing isn’t so awful, it’s that they’re taking what is mine. The reason Bob drives you so crazy isn’t because he’s such a bad guy, it’s because he takes credit for “your” work. He gets “your” promotion. The reason you can’t stand to be around Mabel is because all the boys want to dance with “her” at the sock hop. She’s getting attention that rightly belongs to you.

We may have to admit that deep down, we are amazingly selfish people. We don’t mind working hard, as long as we get credit for it.  We don’t mind having a car that’s held together with duct tape, as long as the neighbors don’t drive buy in their new Audi.  We’re fine with our paycheck, until we see the new guy’s.  The thing that drives our anger and frustration is not really other people, it’s trying to master our own wants.


So here’s the challenge. The next time you feel yourself getting angry at a co-worker, church member, teammate, or boss, take a second and examine your own heart. Are you really angry at them, or is it your own desires that are mastering you? If you were really putting others before yourself (like that one guy said we should do), would it really bother you if they got the credit that was yours? Would it matter if they got paid more for doing less? Would it matter that they got the trophy and you got to put all the gear away?  Is it more important to get rewarded, or to be close to the Creator? If you were really loving God first, and your neighbor second, would you still be fighting?

What is your heart’s desire?

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