It’s an old one, but a good one. A young boy asked his father, “Dad, how do wars begin?” “Well, take WWI,” said his father, “It all started when Germany invaded Belgium.” And immediately his wife who was listening to all this said, “Tell the boy the truth! It began because somebody was murdered.”
The husband drew himself up in an air of superiority and snapped back, “Are you answering our son’s question, or am I?” Turning her back on him in a huff, the wife walked out of the room and slammed the door as hard as she could. When the dishes stopped rattling in the cupboard, an uneasy silence followed, broken at length by the son, “That’s okay Dad, you don’t have to say anymore. I know how.”
When you come to James Chapter 4, you’re immediately met by his rhetorical questions: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” And that’s exactly what that young boy saw in both is parents.
This week we will examine only three verses – James 4:1-3, but they are full of truth. The truth is that my initial intention was to read down through verse 10 and examine all of it on one Sunday, but I quickly abandoned that plan when I started unpacking these few lines. What we have here is a deep exclamation the basic problem of our heart. The problem is in its desires. What James is saying is that God made us with a capacity to seek pleasure, but rather than seeking the one pleasure that will satisfy us, we pursue substitutes. And if that weren’t enough, we fight, envy, and quarrel to satisfy our misguided desires. There is only one answer to our problem and James gives it.
In preparation for Sunday, you may wish to consider the following:
- How does James 3:18 set up Chapter 4:1-3?
- What is the connection between peace and our passions?
- How is peace the greatest desire of the human heart?
- What does Jesus have to say about peace on that First Palm Sunday?
- What is a hedonist? Why does James call every one of us a hedonist in verse 1?
- How is hedonism the cause of quarrels and fights?
- What is the “desire” James is referring to in verse 2?
- How is prayer the antidote to our warring passions?
- James talks about “wrong” prayer in verse 3. What is he mean?
- What is genuine prayer and how does it cure our selfish pugilism?
Sunday is Palm Sunday!! May we worship the King in all His glory!!