James – The Cure for Fighting and Arguing

Peninsula Community Church

June 2, 2013

Fighting and Arguments – The Cure!

James 4:4-7-10 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. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 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.

In last week’s message we looked at the symptoms of fighting and arguing. Today, we will transition to understand the correct diagnosis and cure for these issues. To understand the cure we must make a proper diagnosis. Without a proper diagnosis we cannot prescribe a correct cure or treatment. 

The diagnosis is simple in many ways. The diagnosis is that we tend to fight with ourselves, with others and with God because of our misguided and broken hearts. It is for that reason when we boil it down we find that the biggest issue is our hearts. Now James does not state directly that the heart is the issue but it is implied by the terms he uses and it is confirmed throughout the New Testament. The heart is the seat of our passion. The heart is the reservoir of our emotion. The heart is the place where our desires flow from. It is for that reason that Jesus warns us about the power of the heart. Jesus says “‘It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person.’For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

In this passage before us today, James offers a solution to the problem of fighting and arguing. These are not hard solutions but they are none-the-less solutions to the problem of fighting and arguing. In the remaining verses we are even given steps to take to avoid conflicts that grow into wars. 

The first step to take is to select your friends wisely. We have heard it said that your friends will often determine your future. It is for this reason that James speaks to the issue of choosing our friends wisely. In particular he is addressing our friendship between God and the world or more correctly world views that are opposed to God’s view of life. The importance of the choice is clarified by the simplicity of the alternatives. Choose God or choose the alternative. The seriousness of this choice is seen in the directness of James stating that your denial of God and one’s unwillingness to follow after God is like committing adultery. In particular, James lets us know that friendship with the world is to be at enmity with God’s way and His commands. James is saying is that the mindset of the world opposes the mindset that God desires for us to have. We cannot live out of an earthly mindset and expect God to bless us. In so doing we cannot expect that there will not be unnecessary trials and troubles in our lives as a result. Let me illustrate this in this way. Have you ever tried to honestly deal with issues in another person’s life only to find that they lash out, become angry and fight against your counsel. The fact is they are trying to live with one foot in the world and one foot in God. It is for this reason that James uses the strong analogy of adultery to define this relationship. The word picture of the relationship of Christ to believers is that of a bride and bridegroom. Because of the magnitude of this choice, he gives us grace to live according to the ways God has intended. 

The second step outlined by James is to align ourselves in the proper order so we that know who your orders come from. He does this by stating that we should submit ourselves to God. The term here is a military term which means to get into the proper rank. It means to bring ones self under another. In this case James is saying that we should submit to God. We are to come under his will and his word. It also means to come into agreement with God’s will and purpose for our lives. We must hear, know and apply God’s word to our lives and to each situation that confronts us. When we submit to God it becomes harder to argue and fight. For example, we will submit our will in a way that seeks for peace and not division. We seek to trust one another rather than distrust others. We seek to see the best in others rather than always looking to find fault and wrong in another’s life. We seek to see others as God would see them. We seek to love others as God would love them. Too often if we are fighting and arguing it is because we have failed to submit to one of God’s commands. 

To do this will mean that we must resist the devil, and in so doing he will flee from you. While our own wills are at play we also recognize that we have an enemy that would desire nothing more than to position us to fight and argue. He will present well timed opportunities for us to have our feelings hurt and to be insulted. He will whisper lies to us. He will exploit opportunities that are innocent and make issues out of some things that were never intended to be issues. But, we must take every thought captive to honor God. Listen to 2 Corinthians 10:3 in this matter. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

 When anger and frustration builds in your life don’t give into the temptation to strike back. Forgive as Jesus forgave you. Love your enemies and pray for them. If you resist, you can’t blame the devil. Our number one problem is ourselves.

The third step is to reposition your heart; and to draw near to God by cleansing your hands and purifying your hearts. As we have noted there are times when our hearts are out of position and need to be repositioned so that we are aligned with God’s word and with God’s will. We do this by drawing near to God. The story is told of a wife that was complaining that her husband never set next to her in the car. The husband chuckled for a moment and said “which of us moved as I have always been in the driver’s seat.” The reality is that it was the wife that had moved to the other side of the car. We treat God like that at times. We wonder where he is but he is present in every situation. He has not moved. He is still there.

Notice that this is an action that must be taken on our part. We are to draw near to God. James knowing our tendency to want details gives us two ways to make this happen. First, he notes that we are to cleanse our hands. This relates to the wrongful acts we have committed. When we commit sin we need to ask God to cleanse us. 

Second, he states that we are to purify our hearts. Notice that the issue here is double mindedness. This refers to the carnal nature which seeks to go after other gods and to follow other ways rather than those ways prescribed by scripture. When we are double minded about our life in Christ we are ripe for failure because we fail to take a stand and try to please everyone. 

Notice that David in Psalm 51 cried for God to cleanse his heart and restore a right spirit in him. He was living a duplicitous life. He wanted the ways of the world and had used ungodly means to achieve what he wanted by lying, murder and taking what did not belong to him. He recognized that the only way to be healed was through a healing of the heart.

The fourth step is to be sober about the condition of your life. This passage speaks of heartfelt repentance which is recognizing the sin in our lives for what it is and then repenting of it. Repentance is another military term which means to change course. When we repent we change the course of our life and we change our minds to set our minds on heavenly things. Rather than rejoice in our sin. Rather than revel in our mistakes we are to understand the seriousness of them and then walk in repentance. 

The fifth and final step is to walk in humility and you will be exalted. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. The Bible is filled with great paradoxes. Humble yourself and you will be lifted up is one of those great paradoxes. The world’s view is to promote one’s self. The world says to get a PR company to transform your image. I understand that the Health and Human Services Department has hired a PR firm to help the government sell the new Affordable Care Act. My question is if the act was so great why would we need to spend the multi millions set aside to promote the act. 

It is hard to fight and quarrel when we walk in humility. Instead of looking for a fight we will look for ways to bring peace. Instead of disunity we will seek for ways to bring healing and restoration. This calls for us to be humble rather than being prideful and rebellious. You are not God so stop pretending. Humbling yourself simply means you realize He is God and you are not.

As we close, obeying all these commands will not ever prevent all fighting and quarreling but it will certainly diminish the effect of fights and arguments. The resolve to bring healing will be paramount and God will allow us the privilege of winning souls and winning others to our way of thinking.

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