“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet 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 wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:1-3, ESV)
One of the greatest pitfalls mankind faces is the desire for physical possessions and the willingness to compare one’s value to another. People often look at one another, see what the other has that they don’t and then feel inadequate, unsuccessful, envious, or jealous. They decide that they need more possessions, that they are not adequately blessed, or that they deserve more from their job.
How many times have we heard people complain about not having enough money, yet the extra money they receive is then spent on luxuries, entertainment, and personal greed? How many times do people ask God to bless them with more only to desire to squander it on their own indulgences?
James tries to explain to the people of his day that asking God for more just because one does not have what someone else does is wrong. Seeking God’s help to fulfill personal greed and lusts is petty and worldly. He states that sometimes we do not get what we desire from God because we have asked for something we fully intend to waste on our own selfish desires.
We need to take time to think about the things we ask of God. Am I asking for this because this is something I truly need to sustain life (food, shelter, clothing)? Am I desiring something because I want to use it to God’s glory? Or am I simply asking for things to help satisfy my own selfishness and deepen my own feelings of self-worth? God blesses each of us greatly, but let us never demean his blessings by asking him to fulfill our own personal greed.