“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” (James 4:1-3)
We live in an age and culture that idolizes “self”. The world tells us to put ourselves first, to “take time” for ourselves, that we “cannot be our best for others if we don’t first take care of ourselves”. But Scripture gives us a different message. James tells us that these selfish desires of ours are what causes strife in our relationships, both with other people and with God. In James 4:2-4 he writes, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” When we follow the wisdom of the world, all we get are broken relationships and disappointment. Paul puts it this way in Romans 1:25, “...they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
We were created for worship. The question is, who or what are we worshipping? The world tells us to worship ourselves (“You deserve it!”), but God tells us that worshipping ourselves and our selfish desires leads to opposition to Him. Worshipping God leads to life and blessing. James 4:6-10 says, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
So next time you are tempted to worship yourself (because really that’s what giving into our selfish desires is), submit yourself to God. Ask Him for the strength to resist the devil. Draw near to God (through prayer, Bible study, and God-centered worship), and He will draw near to you!
Jess Bellis is a Jesus follower, wife to Matt, and mama to Davyd, Teddy, and Aderyn. In her free time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family, being outdoors, eating good food, drinking good coffee, and crocheting anything in a straight line. You can find her other writings at https://www.jessbirdbellis.com/