Why, Why, Why? The single most annoying question to infect the ears of a parent, teacher, or pastor. This question is a never-ending circle of cause and effect that if brought to its final conclusion can end up at the creation of the world every time!*
James, however takes this question in three different routes to answer three specific questions as to why we as a people fall into the trap of Worldliness.
Question 1: Why do we fight among ourselves?
If you have lived in this world longer than a few minutes you already know that arguments and quarrels are something we cannot seem to shake. Every day seems like another fight and another time when “they” are wrong and “we” are right.
The church is not immune to this problem. Even in the time of James there was fighting and strife inside the people of God. As James, with the direction of the spirit of God, attempts to address this issue he uses a culprit that has already appeared in his book as the cause of all our sin….Our Own Fleshly Desires.
In James 1:12-15 he spells out how our base desires are what tempt us into sin and cause us to seek after other things. By that same note James here in chapter 4 says that it is the fight between our old and new flesh that causes arguments and quarrels.
“You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain so you fight and quarrel.” James 4:2
James says that we desire things in our life both fleshly and spiritual and we cannot obtain them so we murder, steal, and fight. However he leaves us with what is the base problem “You do not have, because you do not ask.”
Question 2: Why are my prayers not answered?
So all of our quarrels can be summed up in that we do not have the things we desire, and we do not have the things we desire because we do not ask! It seems so simple all we have to do is ask God and he will give it to us!
Again if you have been involved in Christianity for any length of time you have run up against the statement, “God did not answer my prayer”. Putting aside the fact that “no” is just as much an answer as “yes”, we encounter the problem that not everything we as Christians have prayed for has come to pass.
James once again has the answer.
“You as and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” James 4:3
So the reason that we do not see prayers being answered is because like the people of James’ day we are praying wrongly. We do not see health and wealth pouring from the sky precisely because we are praying for health and wealth.
You may ask then, “How should I pray?”
“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'” Matthew 6:9-13
The Lord’s Prayer, as it has come to be know gives us a great instruction on how we should set up our prayers.
1. Adoration of God The Father
2. Request for the will of The Father
3. Request for what we need to do The Fathers work.
4. Forgiveness for when we have disobeyed The Fathers words.
Question 3: Why can’t I have it all?
We are by our very nature an adulterous people. Every good thing that God has done for us and we still try and find ways to sneak the world into our lives. It is from that lack of commitment that this final question spawns. “Why can’t I have both the world and God?”
James again in answering these three questions lays out the answer to us beautiful in his letter to the people.
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:4
Anyone who has been married can tell you that its not as easy as it looks from the outside. As a man I can attest that the other women do not get uglier just because I am married (like I thought they might) nor do my thoughts get easier to manage. Rather, I now focus my mind on my wife so that she is my every thought.
This is how James speaks about our relationship with God. The world and all it offers us does not get less appealing just because we give our lives to Christ. Rather, we are called to focus on God above all the things of this world.
Just like a marriage, James says that our relationship with God is one of a singular nature. I cannot expect to flirt with other women and not have my wife be mad at me. Likewise, we as a Church cannot have friendship with the world and still be a bondservant to Christ. We must be committed wholly to Him.
In answer to the question Why, Why, Why, James simply replys…Love God, Seek His Will, and Ask in His Name.
*(ex.. Why does a grasshopper hop – cause it has legs – why does it have legs – cause God made it that way – Why did God make it that way? – Cause he created the world, now be quiet and go to bed!)