You Do Not Ask God (James 4:2, NIV) by Carley Evans


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 probably does not mean to set aside poor motivations for what we desire, what we see our neighbor owning that we want to own as well when he says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” Most readers would agree since James just mentions killing, quarreling and fighting over things.

So what do we need from God? James begins his letter by reminding us to ask God for wisdom rather than for things. Seems many have forgotten this truth, asking and expecting personal wealth, so much wealth that it’s hard to understand the subsequent lack of generosity.

The so-called prosperity gospel promises that as long as we are generous to God, He will be generous to us. We give the whole tithe to the storehouse — supposedly the physical church we attend — and He will give us so much we will not know what to do with it all. Even if this is true, why then do we find so little giving to those outside the church, to the poor? Why is keeping up with the Joneses so prevalent in the wealthy megachurch?

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38, NIV)

The final portion of Jesus’ comment about generosity seems downplayed by the very rich megachurch. Jesus says that the measure we use is what is measured to us. His comment seems a warning to me, not a promise. Jesus is calling us to unmeasured generosity rather than giving as a calculated risk. Hence His use of the words, “pressed down, shaken together and running over”. He asks us to give so much that we are spent from that very giving. God calls us to give the “good measure.”

And James tells us to ask God for the wisdom to do what is right at all times. No one fights over wisdom.

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“Greater Grace Is Given” (James 4: 1 – 3, HCSB) by Carley Evans


“You ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.” James tells us — we want and yet do not get what we want. We don’t get what we want because we fail to ask for what we want. Or, as aforementioned, we ask for what we want but what we want is only for ourselves — to meet our cravings which are “evil.”

We fight with others because we fight with ourselves. We murder others because they have what we want but can not get. They have it; why can’t we have it? If they deserve it, surely we do, too!

James encourages us, saying: Instead of submitting to our sin, we are to “submit to God.” (James 4: 7) We are to “draw near to God” so that He draws near to us. We are to “resist the Devil” so that “he flees from [us].” (James 4: 8, 7)

James reminds that: “The Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously. But He gives greater grace.” (James 4: 5 – 6)

The grace of God, the Holy Spirit helps us to “cleanse [our] hands, and purify [our] hearts” despite the fact that we are both “sinners” and “double-minded people!” (James 4: 8) We are indeed double-minded, keeping one foot in the world while keeping the other in the heavenly places. We give, yet we covet. With our mouths, we both curse others and praise God. (James 3: 9)

So we must do our best to follow the “royal law” — “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (James 2: 8) With the power of God Himself, we submit to this “law” — this grace which God provides to us, so that we are able to love one another as we love ourselves.

“Who is wise and understanding among you?” asks James. “He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness.” (James 3: 13)