Along with the Holiday Cheer comes, fairly predictably, the Holiday Fights. Pressed into confined quarters with relatives we see only occasionally, tensions mount, tempers flare and heated words are exchanged. How can you avoid all that? There is a way!
The Apostle James explains: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 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.” James 4:1-2
Here we find the heart of human conflict—sinful desires that rage within us. Interestingly the battle is not first between individuals but first within the individual. Passions are at war within us: “you desire” and “you covet,” those are internal wars. Then the fight moves outside: “so you murder,” “so you fight and quarrel.”
Hence comes forward all our arguments and fights, desire in one person meets passion in the other, and fights and quarrels emerge.
Were our desires more held in check, were our lusts, passions and appetites better regulated as we bring them first to God to cleanse us, purify us and rid of us sinful desire, then how many fights might be avoided! But here is our problem, we give such free reign to our passionate lusts.
The materialist lusts after more and more—planning his next purchase. The sensualist lusts after more and more—ogling the image until it is burned into his eyes. The power-hungry, rather than denying themselves more power—dream of the day they will be in charge. The lover of money—counts his pennies and covets for more. Rather than doing battle with our internal passions and desires, we do battle with others, thinking, hoping, to ourselves: “If I win this battle then my desires will finally be obtained and I will feel good, or at least ok.”
But it is a fool’s errand, for satisfying lusts is impossible. It is the nature of lust—to lust—for more. “With a continual lust for more,” Scripture describes. Sinful desires and passions are never sated! They may be warred against, even defeated, but they can never be quenched…never. As John Calvin notes:
He seems to intimate that the soul of man is insatiable when he indulges wicked lusts; and truly it is so; for he who suffers his sinful propensities to rule uncontrolled, will know no end to his lust. Were even the world given to him, he would wish other worlds to be created for him. (Commentary, James 4:1-3)
Rather than fight one another we would do well to fight our own sinful passions and desires, to crucify them. We are to take them to Christ in repentance and faith. We are to confess as sinful our desires to have what God has not granted and look again in faith to him to be more to us than all our desires could obtain from the world. “Seek the things that are above where Christ is.” Then freed from those over-desires we might live more at peace with others. Finally, a peaceful Christmas, the very Peace on Earth, good will toward men, Christ came to make available.
Author: Rev. Dr. Tom Hawkes
Image: A Christmas Story