I found myself in James 4 this morning. Let me just share the scripture first. (verses1-3) "What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you? 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. And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong, you want only what will give you pleasure." NLT
Now, picture yourself standing in an aisle at Walmart, and as you reach for a can of peas, you hear this shrill cry. The cry turns into a scream, and you leave your aisle to go into the next to see what is wrong. As you look down the aisle you see a child, she is laying in the floor, kicking and screaming at the top of her lungs. You see her mother place the sugar cereal back on the shelf, as she tells her, "No honey, that isn't good for you." But what is it that you hear next? "BUT I WANT IT!"
This child no more knows what she wants than a man on the moon. (I don't know where that expression comes from, but it sounds good.) She may seen the box of cereal on a commercial. Isn't that convenient how they do that not only to our children, but to us? Maybe this child has had it at a friends house, or more likely at grandma's house. But as her mother knows what she wants she simply tells her no. The one word we do not like to hear, right? Even as adults we do not like that word. Yes, just sounds so much nicer. But nice is not always best, is it?
Little Susie from down the street wants her friends new doll. She sees this new doll, with her pretty dress and black leather shoes and thinks she should have one just the same. So, she goes home and tells her mother what she wants. She didn't ask for a doll, she told her mother. I think that was her first mistake, right? Mother immediately says, "No, Susie you may not have a doll like your friends right now." And here begins the screaming and kicking. We see through the window as Susie is having a nice, little fit on the kitchen floor. But what is her mother doing? She picks Susie up and tries to comfort her. She tries to hold her, sharing they why's of not having this doll right now, and also shares her attitude is not becoming. Her mother is giving her wisdom here, wisdom that she will need later on in life as she grows. As she grows those wants will only come more, and the no's, well, they too come more often than yes's do.
What little Susie didn't know was that her little friend had worked for her mother. She had cleaned her room for a week, picked up her toys, did all her chores, and even did extra without being told. At the end of the week, her mother purchased the doll to surprise her little girl for having such a wonderful attitude, and helping after her mother's surgery.
We see here two different girls, and two different attitudes. You think children are the only ones who throw fits? I think as adults we do a pretty good job of it ourselves. We think we deserve everything our fingers touch, but without charge, without giving of ourselves. We think we can live and act like spoiled children and still get what we want when we want it.
Jealousy and anger? They don't come from other people or things. They come from within ourselves. When we find ourselves wanting and needing there is something off inside. When we are not content on the inside, we will search high and low to find something to make us smile. But those smiles only last for awhile, until something else comes that we want.
We can look across the street or right next door and see things our neighbors have that we want. We don't just want them, we think we deserve them. Jealousy and envy can eat a person alive. It take away every ounce of joy you have. In James it also speaks about our tongue being evil, but our eyes too, can be just as evil when we allow our flesh to look through them.
Anger and conflict come from within us. If we wake unhappy, we are not going to smile at the first person we see. Now, go back to that little girl throwing a fit in Walmart. Do you see her? Does she have anything in common with you? I know she and I have similar traits if I am honest. Now, have you seen this little girl and stood there watching thinking to yourself, "Oh my, what a brat!" I think if we are honest we can see that little brat in the mirror sometimes. Oh, she sneaks in there when we are not watching. When we have our eyes focused on the world, on our flesh, on our "I WANTS". Somehow those wants pile up higher than the needs do.
We can do the same with Christ. We can have horrible attitudes. Our motives for wanting something are not His motives. He always knows what we need and want. He gives those needs, and there are times He blesses those wants. He knows when we are living in our flesh, and it is not a pretty sight. It can be downright ugly when you see it in Walmart, but we would rather not see it in ourselves. Jealousy, anger and bitterness are not qualities God wants His children to have. We are not to walk in our flesh, but see through His eyes, allow Him to live in us. If we are truly allowing Him to live and abide in us, those desires for things will not be there. We will be content within, and He will fill us with what we really need.
Just as the mother new her daughter didn't need the sugar cereal, God knows what is not good for us, even though our eyes are saying yes. These verses speak volumes to me, as I hope they do you. We need to check ourselves daily, sometimes moment by moment if we are struggling. To find contentedness is to find ourselves wrapped in Jesus, not our neighbors new boat, nor our friends new shoes, or the family down the street who seems so perfect. Wanting what others have is not seeing what God has for us. Seeking joy that others carry can be found by seeking Christ. Too many times, those things we think we want, we really don't need at all if we know the real story behind those walls. It might be that very family wanting what is behind your windows. When we find ourselves wanting so much, we are not trusting God with what He has graciously given, and those gifts are right before our eyes. Sometimes, those no's are the best answers we will ever get, for behind every no there is a yes somewhere, a yes that God is giving for what He knows is just perfect for us.