James 3:16 – For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
James 4:1-2 – What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
A husband and a wife get into a big bruhaha over how and where to spend the holidays. Each is convinced he or she is right and the other is outside his or her mind. The line is drawn in the sand, feet are firmly planted in his or her position, and it turns into a knockdown-drag-out fight.
Let me ask this, was the real problem for that couple where to spend the holidays? Was the “issue” over which that couple fought really the issue? Can you see that there is another problem that has nothing to do with where to go for Christmas? In the Scriptures above, James tells us that if there is disorder and fighting, then something is underlying the current “issue” we are fighting about.
The nation is always divided, we just have a new issue that comes across the scene over which we can fight. And the same goes for families, churches, organizations and businesses. You have a meeting at work that goes sideways, and tempers flare as you discuss a new project or declining sales projections. Was the “issue” the issue, or are there underlying attitudes that are clearly the problem?
Here are a few things I’ve learned about the “issue”:
- We will always have “issues.” There will always be things that we will disagree on, and will have the potential to turn into a major fight. Those “issues” are never going away.
- The issues will change. This is probably the same as the previous point, but we may think we settled an issue, but then a different topic comes along and exposes the same underlying problems. New issues…same relationship and attitude problems.
- We can agree on an issue, and still not be united. You can see this concept played out in Scripture, in politics, in the church, etc. Folks in a church may all agree on certain doctrinal stands, but are they united? We will find out when other issues hit the fan. You and I might find an issue upon which we can clearly rally. But when the “next issue” comes along it may expose that we were never really united.
- We have to pray and calmly seek God’s guidance to look past the current issue. May God, the Great Physician, help us to see the real sickness and problem underneath instead of treating the symptoms. I may sneeze because I have allergies, you may sneeze because you have a virus. We have to understand the root problem, otherwise our treatment of the symptom may not work. In fact the treatment of the symptom could be dangerous.
For our meditation today, we can remember that when there are fights and quarrels, there is something underneath the surface that has nothing to do with the current issue.