James 4:1 - What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?
The reason for all the fighting and quarreling that is so common to humanity lives within us and that is our self-centered desire for pleasures. Just as a child acts out when he does not get his way, so do those who are void of godly wisdom. People are self-centered, so when they do not get their way, they get upset and act out which is why there are conflicts and quarrels. As people mature from childhood, they learn to justify and disguise these unseemly behaviors, but the selfishness still remains as do the resentments.
We believe the deception that our contentious behavior is the reaction to the wrong behavior of another. However, the truth of the matter is we did not get our way, so we became upset. Extremely vital for those who desire to live godly is to shoulder the responsibility for all our thoughts and actions. Our behavior is never someone else’s responsibility or fault.
James 4:2 - You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.
Humanity’s sole motivation for thoughts and activities is selfishness. The great paradigm (a philosophical and theoretical framework) shift for the Christian is in our base of operation for life. We now have the choice to think what we think and do what we do for the glory of God and not self only. We are enabled to seek, focus, and obey the will of God above our own will. We can be like Christ who always did the will of the Father.
John 5:19 - Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
John 5:30 - "I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
John 14:12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do [the works Jesus did are whatever God told him to do], he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.
People are motivated by their own selfish lust. We learn early on in life if we do the right thing, we benefit. We eat all our food in order to get the treat. We learned to go on the potty because we received applause or rewards. At school, we get certificates of achievements, rewards, and grades for our actions. With our vocation, we are told if we do well, we will receive better pay, vacation time, and, most of all, positions with more prestige. When our egos are stroked, we respond and do more to satisfy our employer. The inner machinery of civilization is the manipulation of man’s activity based upon his self-interest. The advertisers who constantly bombard us on TV, radio, internet, mailers, billboards, phone solicitations all aim at our self-interest.
Satan keeps control over the people of the world by the complete and constant manipulation of our egos. He knows that individual self-interest is the actual motive of all conscious action. (See Ephesians 2:1-3.) The interest humanity has in others is only through the reflection of self. For the believer, God implants a new will in us, the will of God in Christ Jesus. The great paradigm shift is we now have a choice between our own will and the will of Christ that lives within us. The new will causes us to have genuine godlike concern for our fellow man.
The history of humanity reveals the vast extremes of wickedness stirred by the unrelenting and hideous motive of self. Even in the church, we experience the effects of the immature Christians who never grow past self-interest to desire and obedience of the will of God. Everyone comes around because of self-interest; few stay around because most do not mature past self to God. Some churches grow in population because the person in charge is a master motivator playing on the base motive of self-interest to entice people to participate. The people think they are giving service to God but really are serving themselves.
James 4:3 - You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Asking God out of self-interest rather than God-interest is to ask amiss. The concern for prayer is God’s will and wisdom rather than our own. The wrong motive is self-centered concern, desire for that which brings pleasure to self, which is the way of every human in the world. The way humanity got into the mess we are in was by Adam and Eve following self-interests and pleasures in place of God’s interests. God’s interest for them was paradise. Jesus taught us to stop following man’s interest, deny self, and follow him.
Luke 9:23-24 - If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
We can turn our lives over to the one who lives within us by quiet, persistent practice day by day. Turning our attention from self and the world to Him with prayer, inward worship, and surrender is our goal. We can develop and establish mental habits of inward orientation. A steady, inner, secret turning to God is possible. We can begin right now by turning within ourselves and telling God we love Him and asking Him to help us grasp the concept under consideration.
You can keep engaged with the outer world, and at the same time you surrender to the inner world where God dwells within Christ in you. Turn your thought in silent worship to Him as you are involved in every activity of life. Ask for His help; ask for His blessings on the person you are talking with. Pray that His blessing will shower down on the place that you are located. Ask Him to guide you and direct you. Keep it up throughout the day. First thing in the morning, last thing at night, while you are eating or driving in your car, turn your thoughts and heart to him. When you forget to do it, immediately return to focus on Him. Do not dwell on the past, what you failed to do; rather, do it now!
When you realize you are self-focused, claim Jesus’ command to die to yourself. STOP THINKING ABOUT YOURSELF! Turn your mind to God, and ask what is Your will? What do you want me to think about, and what do you want me to do? The great paradigm shift is from living for self-pleasure and self-will to living to please God and His will.