The Source of Conflict

“What is the SOURCE of QUARRELS and CONFLICTS among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures…” (James 4:1-3)

“…But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

Conflict is inevitable. If you never disagree with someone, then you don't know each other well enough. You don't have a real relationship. But the quarreling (or fighting) often associated with conflict can be prevented. If you want to map out a river, you need to locate all the headwaters. So if you want to map out the whole process of conflict quarrels, let's allow the inspired writer James to point us to the headwaters where we might be able to redirect the streams before they all flow together.

James suggests that PRIDE (4:6) and COVETING (4:1-3) are the chief culprits. LUST and ENVY are the children of COVETING and the deranged cousins of PRIDE. Together, they form a family of vices responsible for most of the evils in the world and, sadly, even among Christians. Quarreling, fighting, bickering, (insert your own conflict word from a lengthy list in our language)…is the inevitable fruit of this family of vices left unchecked. LUST clouds my thinking by substituting my will for God’s and then labeling it as God’s. ENVY drives my pursuit of power – the upper hand – in the relationship…the desire to know that I am in the right. PRIDE prevents me from admitting a wrong. And so when two of these demanding, unyielding families of vices meet in the form of two individuals at odds with one another, you can see how hopeless resolution is…until both individuals can receive and apply the “greater grace” – HUMILITY (4:6).

So a glass of milk falls over. The argument should not be over who spilled the milk. All who witness the actual milk on the floor should be grabbing towels to clean it up. Otherwise, the blame game ensues while the milk is left to spoil and stain. But while cleaning the milk, the ones involved in knocking the glass over may discover ways to prevent the glass from tipping over as often in the future. Accidents will still happen. Mistakes will still be made. Conflicts will arise. Anger will ensue. But with humble hearts, it will be resolved. The relationship will still survive…and ultimately…thrive. 


To His Glory,


Caleb Cochran

Preaching & Outreach Minister

Rockville, MD


Photo credit: the rik pics / Foter / CC BY-NC