Let’s acknowledge this point out front: conflict, disappointment, and defeat are inevitable when human passions direct our course in life. Men are passionate creatures, deep down concerned with suiting their own desires and needs. When, for instance, we give time or money to a good cause we might receive a level of satisfaction in knowing that our contribution was of value. This kind of passion is not always necessarily bad; it is just part of our makeup. However, unbridled passions more often than not can lead us into dangerous waters at the expense of our spiritual well-being.

James 4 doesn’t provide us with much in terms of context, so the exact nature of the issues here is unclear. The language in this passage indicates that some Christians may have been led by their inward passions to physical violence against one another. Notice also that these Christians aren’t receiving what they want for two reasons: (1) they do not ask; and (2) if they do ask, they ask wrongly, to spend (it) on their passions. On one hand, these Christians take matters into their own hands, refusing to beseech God, and they still do not have what they seek. On the other hand, these Christians expect that if they ask God then their requests will be granted, yet they fail to receive what they’ve asked for because their self-seeking passions are the catalyst for their prayer. Thus, in both cases, these Christians are dissatisfied and depleted because their passions have consumed them to the core.

What can we see here? Passions, in the self-seeking sense, ultimately pit us against one another and the Lord. The fact that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble should a wakeup call Christians everywhere to examine their motives: Am I pursuing x because it satisfies my selfish passions, or am I pursuing x because it leads to the grace of God? Remember, God opposes the proud: those that feel entitles to their desires; and He gives grace to the humble: those that seek altruistically to live in communion with God. How wonderful it would be if our deepest passions and pursuits direct us to the grace of God! To stand cavalier in the face of an Almighty God is the prerequisite for a great fall (Proverbs 16:18).

Today I will…1. consider my motives when praying to God, 2. acknowledge that my passions sometimes carry me away, and 3. humbly pursue a path that leads to God’s grace (Proverbs 4:18).