What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. (James 4:1-2 HCSB)
In the times that I have read James 4 in the past, It struck me as mostly addressing the relations between tribes, groups or countries. But in reading it recently, it was impressed on me that this passage is very much related to my interpersonal relationships as well.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines conflict as follows:
a: competitive or opposing action of incompatibles: antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons)
b: mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands
…Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
It’s probably rather obvious to all that conflict generally occurs as a result of incompatible ideas, or opposing needs, desires or demands. But the extent to which pride comes into play may not be as obvious initially. When we think or behave in a way that dismisses other’s opinions and assume our’s to be superior, we miss out on opportunities to learn and grow through our relationships. We lose the chance of expanding our understanding of God and others. While we certainly may be “right” about any particular idea or belief, the unwillingness to even listen to the suggestions or opinions of others displays an attitude of arrogance which reveals a level of pride in us.
Arrogance leads to nothing but strife,
but wisdom is gained by those who take advice.
Going further, often when we close ourselves off to other attitudes, advice, or ideas, we can find ourselves in conflict with another. We place a high priority on winning; on having our desires realized. And when we are presented with a situation in which we act without seeking the other’s viewpoint, in other words, when we make an assumption that we already know all of the pertinent facts, we can find ourselves being the cause of conflict. It is a demonstration of self-centeredness in that we are seeking the outcome that seems best for us, not for the other person; as a refusal to seek understanding of another persons thoughts or wishes only proves that one’s own ideas are all that are important to the oneself. This arrogance and pride can cause us to be dismissive of other’s needs, to act in a way that is not helpful and perhaps even harmful, and it demonstrates a lack of care and compassion for others.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant…
(1 Corinthians 13:4)
He takes note of the humble;
but He knows the haughty from a distance.
- How have your actions toward other people proven to breed conflict rather than understanding?
- Can you think of any times recently when your prideful actions have served to usher in negative results and had undesired consequences? Could any of these consequences have been avoided by pursuing a humble stance rather than one of pride and arrogance?
“And what else is the cause of all transgression, but that man’s ignorant pride will have his will preferred to the will of God.” ~William Cowper
- Proud of yourself? (intheserviceofgod.wordpress.com)
- Solving Hot Relationship Issues (conseillesrelations.wordpress.com)
- The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God. (savedbygraceblogdotcom.wordpress.com)