What is the source of your quarreling? Jealousy. Envy. Materialism. These are the kinds of things that make people angry and fight and internally want to kill one another. That’s what James says in the fourth chapter of his letter to the believers.
Jealousy is the cause, which comes from materialism because we’re envious of one another. In chapter 4, James elaborates on why we fight and says to trust the Lord for these things.
We fight because we are consumed by materialism and jealousy.
We live in a consumer society here in the United States. We are a very wealthy nation, and there is always someone who has more: more money, better clothes, a flashier job, a new car, a bigger house, etc. It never ends. While our materialism might seem heightened, the human condition has not changed since James wrote his letter. The believers to whom he was writing were sinning against each other. They were fighting and quarreling because of envy and selfishness.
Don’t let your life be consumed with materialism. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring. If your life is taken up with consuming “stuff,” you will be taken up with fighting, strife, and jealousy.
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.” (James 4:13-14a)
If money is the first order of business for you, then get ready for a miserable life. Go spend your life in courtrooms fighting your family over the inheritance. Don’t let life be taken up with materialism. It will be miserable.
We quarrel because we’re storing the wrong treasure.
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you…It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!” (James 5:1,3b)
James echoes the Sermon on the Mount by referring to rotting earthly treasure. He says, “Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted…” (James 5:2-3).
Jesus, and James quotes him, told us to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. Materialism, jealousy, and prizing the wrong treasure are all woven together in creating an unfulfilled life.
But God gave us the right treasure.
The treasure for which we truly long God freely gave in the person of Jesus. If you’re storing the right treasure – Kingdom treasure – the materials and possessions of this world will be much less important to you.
We fight because we don’t trust God.
The book of James ends by telling us to be patient. He points to the farmer who plants his crop and waits. The farmer prays for the waters of heaven, and he asks God to bring the increase.
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient” (James 5:7-8a).
Like a farmer is patient so we must be patient. We must trust in the goodness of God and in His mercies whatever our pain, whatever our suffering, and whatever our agony.
In a mysterious sense, this involves the ways of God. God uses these things, but we must trust that he is finally and ultimately good and merciful. Be patient. Trust him. Serve him. He will bring it all to a good end.
The Book of James
This blog finishes my brief overview of the book of James. The exhortation of James is to live with wisdom. And like the baptismal vows that so many of us have taken, we must walk in the newness of life. The Christian life is just that — it is a life. We have committed ourselves to our Glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and so, therefore, we must live in a way that is consistent with his Lordship.
Related James blogs:
Blog edited by Joannah Buffington