This understanding of how disputes among us often arise within us is beloved in our therapeutic culture. I wonder why I haven’t preached it this century.
Later in the chapter, James introduces the argument against the vanity of over planning – something we pick up in tomorrow’s chapter and notes.
Our liberal crew doesn’t like the ‘flee from the devil’ talk – but the clarification that we can’t blame God for our own temptations is worth a pause.
The closing line reminds us of the sins of omission, not just commission – a critical distinction in our culture in which ‘our institutions do our sinning for us’.
1 Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?
2You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask.
3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.
4Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
5Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, ‘God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’?
6But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’
7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection.
10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
12There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbour?
13 Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.’
14Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
15Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.’
16As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.
17Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.