You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. James 4, verse 2.
Our sin is due to the fact that we don’t ask God. Underlying that, however, is a bigger fact: we don’t ask God because we don’t come to God first. How many of our worries, troubles, crises or disasters could we avoid if we simply stop, pray, and seek Jesus’ guidance before we proceed any further? I struggle with this daily, and if you don’t believe me (or think yourself different), then let me tell you that, just since I awoke this morning I’ve wrestled with envy, anger, impatience, arrogance, idolatry, filthy language, lust, hatred, judgmentalism, and falsehood…and it isn’t even noon yet! How are you different?
But beneath the idea that we don’t seek Jesus first is the even more insidious truth that’s sometimes hard to acknowledge. We don’t ask God first and we don’t come to Him first because we want to be God first. Yes, you read that right: you and me, me and you: we want to be God. You’ve heard me say it before that all sin is really a sin of idolatry. Underneath every sin we think, say, or do is the partner sin of idolatry. We murder because we’ve made something else our god. We lie because we think we know better than God’s truth. We deceive because we think we can control things better than God’s life. We lust because we tell ourselves that God hasn’t given us enough. You get the picture.
This isn’t my original thought; I’m not that clever. No, I’m doing little more than parroting an idea that many others have spoken before me. Many of them are echoing James, and so do I. James was speak on Jesus’ behalf, on the older brother with whom he grew up. Perhaps James learned of desire and coveting by watching his brother grow up and make choices to avoid these things; perhaps James grew to understand them by watching others around him. Or perhaps these are sins he knew too well from his own lexicon of sin. We don’t know and, in reality, it doesn’t matter half as much as the truth that our sinful desires take root because we don’t seek God. And we don’t seek God because we think we know better.
New Years is only a few weeks away. Perhaps you and I could each make a resolution, starting now, to stop and pray, to seek first Jesus’ counsel, in the decisions and actions we choose. Perhaps, then, a happy new year would be truly happy and we could avoid the pitfalls of our misplaced desires.
Wise Lord, help me to know You more by partnering with me today in all I decide or do. Lead me and advise me and teach me to follow.