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James 4:1-10 (NIV)
Submit Yourselves to God
4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
The book of James contains this important and practical teaching on the source of violence in the Christian heart. The cause of our arguments and quarrels is the “desires that battle within”. These desires lead to coveting, quarreling, fighting, and eventually killing. We have these dangerous, anti-social desires, because in our prayers we “ask with the wrong motives”. We can see that our prayer motives are wrong when they reveal we are friends with the world, instead of friends with God. What is the Christian to do? We start with our own hearts. “Submit yourselves, then, to God (v.7) and humble yourselves before the Lord (v.10).” Then God can use us as agents for peace.