"You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it." James 4:2 (NLT)
Have you ever wanted something so bad that you devised a plan to get it in a way that was either illegal or wrong? Did you follow through? If your answer is yes to either or both of those questions, then you are not alone. This was true for the Christians in James' day as in our own. In our fallen natures, we all desire things, but when those things begin to pull us in ways that we know are wrong and sinful, we must pull back. The things themselves may not be bad, but our desires and plans to attain them can become wrong and evil. When this happens, you can be sure you have lost focus of what life is about.
We get off track when our pursuit for things and accomplishments override the fundamental truth that people are more important than the stuff of this world. The Christians in this verse were compromising their faith and their relationship with Jesus. Without concern for their fellow believers, they were willing to do anything to get what they desired. When they did get it, they still didn’t receive what they expected. They thought the gathering of stuff would make them happy and give them peace, but all they obtained was guilt, emptiness and a desire for more. They were temporarily satisfied, but their appetite did not fade. It actually increased. James is saying all they had to do was ask God and leave the results up to Him. This is so important because only God knows what is best for us, and what will help us accomplish His will for our lives. When we seek His will and not our own, we can simply do the asking, and let Him do the withholding or the giving. Then we can be at peace and have contentment, no matter what we have or do not have. We won’t have to strive and fight anymore because we will know that God has given us all that we need to do His will. When we trust in Him, we will experience the joy, peace, and wholeness we desire.