Let Go Of Strife, Find Peace
Text: James 4:1-12 Key Verse: v.7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Listen to this sermon: Introduction I want to take a look at strife in the message for today and this week. Strife is something that we all have to deal with. There is strife between one another, inner strife (turmoil), and strife towards the Lord. For us to grow we must learn to ride ourselves of strife. Wrath and anger are two things that God does not deal with. James 1:20 tells us, “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness …
Text: James 4:1-12
Key Verse: v.7
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Listen to this sermon:
I want to take a look at strife in the message for today and this week. Strife is something that we all have to deal with. There is strife between one another, inner strife (turmoil), and strife towards the Lord. For us to grow we must learn to ride ourselves of strife. Wrath and anger are two things that God does not deal with. James 1:20 tells us, “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God”. If we take a step back to James 1:19 we are told to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” What is it so important about anger and wrath that we are warned time and time again to stay away from those things? Why does anger nor wrath produce the righteousness of God?
We are unable to see the spirit trying to guide us because wrath and anger are both blinding emotions. We are also unable to hear the Spirit trying to guide us because anger and wrath is an emotion full of loud storms. Every believer should understand that both anger and wrath distracts us from God. In no way does a Christian benefit by being distracted from the Lord. How can we benefit from God if we are distracted from His guidance? We can’t! The only one who benefits from anger and wrath is Satan. Satan benefits greatly when a Christian is distracted with anger, wrath, and strife which is why it is so important for us to remove strife out of our lives.
Let’s examine strife. We know that strife is a disagreement or a conflict, but where does strife come from? James, in the first two verses of our text today, also wondered the same thing. He asked, “where do wars and fights come from among you?” Why is it that we fight among each other? Why is it that there is strife among us? James’ conclusion was that the fighting/strife comes about due to our lusts. We are told that we lust and have not, that we desire to have and cannot obtain. Lusting and desiring what others have sounds a lot like covetousness, does it not? Covetousness, you know, is one of the items mentioned in the Ten Commandments.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s. – Exodus 20:17 NKJV
Wanting what others have; covetousness. Covetousness leads to jealousy, jealousy leads to anger, and anger turns into hate. These tools of anger, jealousy, and hate are all tools of Satan. These are the tools that Satan will use to get inside of your heads and play games. Satan is trying to create strife between you and the Lord – this is how Satan wages war against the Lord. You cannot allow Satan to try and tear you, the believer, away from the Lord. Satan loves to use strife, the perception of what you don’t have, to rip you away from your loved ones. Satan wants that inner turmoil to spill over into your spiritual self so that it creates animosity and turmoil between you and the Lord.
Remember, Satan tempted Jesus by trying to create strife between the Son and the Father. Satan lifted Jesus up and showed Jesus the world, and then offered Jesus the world to have. Satan knew that Jesus’ purpose was to be the destroyer of sin’s guilt, and to be his end so he tried to separate God the Son from God the Father. If Satan had the audacity to tempt Jesus by creating animosity between the Father and the Son, you better believe he will try to do the same to the believers of Christ. Satan reigns in his kingdom and he stirs the pot of this kingdom with mess; strife. Strife is a destroyer and has destroyed men, women, and children. Strife is literally tearing our society apart and destroying our world.
Take a look at what strife has done to our world. Our history is full of mankind warring and fighting each other, oppressing and enslaving each other. Think about all of the history that has been lost due to man’s lusting desire to have what another had. Think about all of the culture and the ways that has been lost due to man’s intent on keeping one another down. We like to believe that we live in a world that’s progressing but we live in a world that’s not really moving forward as we should. We spend too much of our time dealing with petty issues that we should have been conquered and moved on from.
Here we are in 2015 still having arguments, not conversations, about equality. There is absolutely no reason that we should have to hold up signs, in 2015, that reads, “Black Lives Matter”. We thought that our society had finally began to move on from issues that reached a climax 50 years ago but here we are, why? The homosexuals are still fighting for equal rights and liberties because some of us are so focused on being dictators instead of trying to find a way to live peaceably with all men. Women are still fighting for equal rights because somebody somewhere has to continue to create strife. But we have progressed, right? You see, all the animosity that is in the world today has actually distracted us from becoming a better society/world. The world’s strife has distracted many from seeing the face of the Lord and hearing His voice because one’s way has to be right and the other’s way has to be wrong.
We take that worldly mentality and incorporate that mentality inside of the church and ourselves. The world cannot operate inside of the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit dwells inside of you and you cannot allow the worldly mentality to enter His dwelling place. When you try to bring that worldly mentality inside of the body of Christ you are going to do nothing but create strife!
“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (v.4)”
The last thing a believer needs is to go to a place meant for worship and solitude and then have to deal with a bunch of mess! Leave the worldly mentality outside the church doors! Don’t allow yourself to be filled with anger and wrath – resist Satan’s tools and he will flee. The last thing a Christian ever needs is for their to be strife between he/she and the Lord. Do not bring the worldly mentality into your spiritual life and allow it to create strife between you and the Lord. We should never be at odds with the Lord, but how often do you find yourself wondering why? Why haven’t I received what I asked for? Why is he getting a blessing and I’m not? Purge these thoughts, that strife, away from your mind!
We must conquer the inner turmoil, we must conquer strife, and not let it tear us up. How do we go about removing the animosity? How do we go about removing the anger and wrath? How do we go about removing strife?
For us Christians, the first thing we must do is look at ourselves spiritually. In everything we do we must seek answers and guidance spiritually. Going back to James 1:19, we are told that we must first be swift to hear. Why are we told to be swift to hear? How can you hear from the Lord if there’s a bunch of turmoil and noise happening on the inside? We have to learn how to quiet our minds so that we can listen to God, the Holy Spirit, which dwells inside of us and is here for the purpose of guiding us.
Secondly, in continuing with listening, we must be slow to speak. I have a habit of speaking up quickly when somebody is trying to make their point – my patience goes away in a heated debate or argument. Let’s understand this right away… God is not going to have a shouting match with us – we are His children and He is almighty. If you intend on shouting over the Lord, He’s going to let you go your way until you’re finally willing to sit down and listen to what He has to say. Be slow to speak so that you can truly listen and understand what it is the Lord is trying to show you.
Thirdly, we must fully submit ourselves to the Lord. We must turn ourselves over fully to the Lord and trust in His will. A lot of our strife and turmoil comes from not truly trusting in God’s will. We will say our prayer, but typically our prayer is about trying to grow to have more than what the next person has. Society has taught us that you are judged by what you have or do not have so therefore you need to have more. We stride for the gold pot at the end of the rainbow because we want what somebody else has, or we want more than what they have. The problem is that those type of prayers (prayers amiss) go unanswered because they are prayers out of lust.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. v.3
Do we want what God has for us or do we want what others have? What somebody else has is not necessarily something you need! In fact, that something may not do any good for you at all! God knows exactly what each of us needs and it is that blessing(s) which will bring about our happiness and peace. We must remove away our own selfish wants and learn to trust in God’s will. Draw near to God. Ask in God’s permissive will, trusting in that will, and watch what God will do for you. You will find yourself at peace! It is that peace which we can then move forward with in the world. Paul said this to all believers:
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. – Romans 12:18 NKJV
Living peaceably with all depends a great deal on us believers. We are supposed to be about love, not the strife for which we feed society. For us to live peaceably we must let go of strife. We must be willing to hear because the person that is unwilling to listen is already unable to communicate. It’s not a conversation if both sides are yelling at the top of their lungs and neither side is listening. Be the bigger person and listen sometimes – be slow to speak. If we are ever going to progress forward as a people, and as Christians, we have to let go of the wrath, the anger, and the strife so that the righteousness of God can be produced.