“What causes fights and quarrels among you?” James asks in his letter to early Christians. And then he answers: “Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight“ (James 4:1-2).
I admit, I’ve noticed this truth play out in my own life. Whenever I’ve gotten into an argument with my wife or gotten upset with my kids—ironically, the persons I love most in this world—it’s because there was something I wanted that I did not get. Let me give you an example. Not long ago, I soured our family movie night because I wanted to watch Star Wars but my family didn’t. Crazy, right? But if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit our fights and arguments with the people we love arise because of our own selfish desires. If we don’t get what we want, our upset hearts respond in un-Christlike ways. The root problem is within our our hearts.
This week, ask the Lord to reveal the desires in your heart that might be leading you to fight, raise your voice, or get sinfully angry. Then, turn to Jesus to replace those unmet wants with his meekness (Philippians 2:3-8).
Recommended resources for further reading on this topic:
Dane C. Ortlund, Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners (Crossway, 2021).
Christopher Ash and Steve Midgley, The Heart of Anger: How the Bible Transforms Anger in Our Understanding and Experience (Crossway, 2021).
Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp, How People Change (New Growth Press, 2006).