“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)
Bitter jealousy, boasting, selfish ambition, disorder, vile practices, quarrels, even murder — this is “not the wisdom that comes from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (James 3: 15)
James contrasts this earthly knowledge with “the wisdom from above” which he writes is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
James tells us that “[our] passions are at war within [us].” What we want, we do not obtain and so we fight, even murder. “[We] ask and do not receive, because [we] ask wrongly, to spend it on [our] passions.” (James 4: 1, 3) James further writes, “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” (James 3: 8 – 9)
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4: 17)
On the other hand, as we cultivate peace — taming our ambitions, our tongue, our covetousness — then “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace.” (James 3: 18) This is the wisdom from above — “open to reason” and “full of mercy.”