Walk into any small town and you will likely find some sort of diner. Invariably in this diner will be a group of people who meet up on a daily basis to talk about the latest happenings. These groups know everything and have solutions for everything. I have been to some of these small town diners and have felt out-of-place. I am clearly not one of the problem solvers, therefore I might be a problem myself. Their mission is to do what it takes to solve the world’s problems over coffee each day. Of course, the world has decided to stop asking them.
My kids do this in their own way. In their case they usually talk about how to make a Lego set better or how to get out of doing housework. There was a time last year when one of my boys fixed a latch on something using tape. He was so excited about it! It was like this tape thing had never been done before. There is an inherent desire in us all to solve the tensions we experience in the world each day, even if it is as simple as a broken latch.
I think James felt this tension in James 4. There were obvious battles going on between people and obvious questions as to why. He solves the world’s problems by taking us back to the basic issue: “man has an evil heart.”
You can read it in James 4:1-3, but here is the way I would paraphrase this.
Why are you fighting with each other? Because you want to have your way. You look at something and go to great lengths to get it. When you don’t get it, you throw a fit like an infant. You go even to the point of physical harm to get whatever you want, only to find that you still cannot have that thing! So, you go back to your faith’s foundation and ask God because he has told you to ask Him. You still don’t receive it because you ask with motives that are selfish. Everything is about you and no one else matters.
The problem with the world was selfish people who hurt others to get their way. We could call this pride or we could call it being childish. In either case, people were being hurt and God’s ways were being ignored.
This sounds familiar in our world today. It would seem like our country is content on removing God from everything. We have leaders who are claiming we are a secular nation and moving us that way. But this position still leaves something to be desired. We have evil in our world and struggles with others. We have people hurting other people in order to get some material wealth.
The solution is so simple. He goes on to say:
“That is why the Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – James 4:6
There will be no solution to the world’s problems without humility because until we look at other people and not just ourselves, we will miss out on what it truly means to love others and not just ourselves.