Conflict is inevitable. Different personalities, backgrounds, and experiences make this a normal part of life. However, some conflict has a more serious root — a spiritual root. This is where James is helpful. James 4 deals with three different levels of conflict. Here is what we can learn.
1- We experience conflict with others.- vs. 1a
James begins with asking why this is a reality. Why do we have conflict with others? Why is this so common? We know it to be true — we all have experienced it. It even takes place in churches. Far too often we simply accept it as normal without answering the question James poses. He begins to answer that question in the next point.
2- We experience conflict within ourselves.- vs. 1b-3
The second half of verse one is the key.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
Did you notice what he said? The conflict that is among you (with others) is really a symptom of the conflict within you. Inner conflict leads to external conflict.
Where does this inner conflict come from? It comes from our own selfish desires, lusts, and passions. There is one other key place that it comes from. This is seen in the next point.
3- We experience conflict with God.- vs. 4-6
The conflict we have with God leads to inner conflict which leads to interpersonal conflict. It is all related. Here is the truth. Constant and ongoing conflict in someone’s life is a sign that there are some spiritual issues. It is a sign that there is selfishness. It is a sign that there is pride.
Conflict is normal, but it shouldn’t be common in our lives. If you are someone who is constantly living in conflict with everyone around you, take a look at your heart. Chances are, there is a problem between you and God that you need to address.