James Chapter 4: 1-3
1. What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (New American Standard Bible)
How many prayers have you brought to the Lord just to feel they haven’t been answered? Has God really not answered your prayers or did He just answer them differently than what you wanted? Why did the man of your dreams reject you? Ever thought that maybe God has something else in store for you? Or why did God not heal my grandfather of his cancer? God did heal my grandfather by bringing them Home. Or why did I not get that job that would have overly met my needs? Maybe because God knew that money would take over my selfish desires.
There are so many different reason why God answers our prayers differently, but James 4:3 bluntly puts it because we have the wrong motives. Perhaps I only wanted that guy because of lustful desires. Perhaps the reason why I didn’t want my grandfather to die was because I had regret the time I wasted by not calling him. Perhaps I have already started planning on how to spend the money instead of entrusting it to God. There are plenty of verses that discusses asking God for things, but James 4:3 tells us to check our motives.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
This passage is often quoted by people, especially verse 4, but they forget the prelude, “Delight yourself in the Lord”. This is vital. When we delight ourselves in Christ, we grow in His will developing godly character. Our desires end up changing to reflect His light in our lives. It does not necessarily mean every dream or desire we have before Christ is thrown to the waste-side. It means God wants to take our desires and mold them into greatness. For example, I wanted to be a mother even before I began this walk with Jesus. Not only has He blessed me with two beautiful healthy children to protect and guide, but He has blessed me with the chances to be a mother to my high school students that I teach and over the young adults in the singles’ ministry at our church. God has shown me incredible love that continues to expand by each new person that comes into my life. I never imagined having this full of a heart. God didn’t take away my desire to be a mom; He enhanced it.
Then in verses 5 & 6, David tells us to commit our ways to the Lord. I didn’t realize the importance of this verse until this spring when we bought our first home. We waited seven years before we were able to buy our first home due to being financially unwise and then life happened (babies, going back to school, etc). You know how it goes. But we decided to involve the Lord in our plans. Instead of trying to have us work it out, we trusted God to work it out and boy did He ever! It wasn’t always easy, but we knew what it was like to struggle from day-to-day and we wanted God’s best.
Proverbs 16:1-3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
16 The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the Lord weighs the motives.
3 Commit your works to the Lord
And your plans will be established
But how do we go from our definition of “best” to God’s definition? In Proverbs 16:1-3, we see that God has the final word, but He still desires our hearts and us to recognize our need for Him. But digging deeper we see that once again we are reminded to check our motives. When we do this, whose standard should we be living by? Are you checking your motives compared to your neighbor? Are you using your own definition of “best” or God’s? Do you find yourself justifying your actions by saying, “At least I’m not like so-and-so down the street.” If that’s the case, you’re not using God’s definition of “best”. We should seriously ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” Because we invite God’s motives into our lives, when we invite the Holy Spirit to intercede so that we are walking in God’s will, our plans will be established! Set firm! Accomplished! Might as well start singing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” because that is God’s promise and He never, ever, ever goes back on His word. NEVER! So is your definition of “best” really God’s? Or does He need to enhance or completely change it?
But what if we don’t change our motives? What if our attitude is to “eat, live and be merry for tomorrow we die”? James clearly states we cannot live one foot for the world and one for Him.
4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
I think we need to humble ourselves as children of God and approach the throne. It’s time for a motive check. If our desires are not aligning up with the Word or with God’s will, then our desires need to change. You will never regret following the Lord in this. It will not be easy. Following God requires you to be strong in your weakness, i.e. trusting Him to carry you instead of you trying to make it work. It’s like a child trying to put a massive 3-D puzzle together. He only sees certain pieces and tries to make them fit together and gets frustrated when they don’t match up. The parent is standing over just waiting to be asked for help. The parent sees the whole picture and is able to remedy the situation, but the child keeps trying and trying until a puzzle piece breaks. Don’t let your short-sightedness keep you from experiencing God’s fullness. He is our Abba, our father waiting for us to ask for help. And when God comes in, you better hold on because it will be the best ride of your life!
I wanted to end with a few verses of God’s promises. I really believe we need to be reminded daily of just who God is and how He works. He doesn’t work on our timing or in our understanding. He’s above all of that!
23The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand
7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Thank you once again for your words and your guidance. Thank you that you wish to be involved in our decisions and dreams. Lord, I submit my plans to you and ask that they be pleasing to you. Check our motives and mold us to be more like you.
In your name,
Y’all have a great day!