“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people. Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says, ‘God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.’” — James 4:1-6 (NIV)
James gives a lot of attention to problem solving. On their own, they could not resolve their divisions and quarrels. When James steps in, he cuts through the fat and spells out the reason and the remedy for their problems. And their main problem was pride.
In the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers died, as they were hurled into the icy waters below. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. It wasn’t a technology problem like radar malfunction, or even thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship’s presence nearby. Either could have steered clear but, according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first.
By the time they came to their senses, it was too late.
Their pride killed hundreds of people. How many lives will be destroyed, because of our pride? But God blesses the humble, not the prideful. Humility says whatever I achieve in life, I didn’t get there by myself.
God always sends someone to help you accomplish His goals. For example, the “Handbook of Magazine Article Writings” contains this illustration by Philip Barry Osborne: “Alex Haley, the author of ‘Roots,’ before he died had a picture in his office, showing a turtle sitting atop a fence. The picture is there to remind him of a lesson he learned long ago: ‘If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know he had some help.’
“Says Alex, ‘Any time I start thinking, Wow! Isn’t this marvelous what I’ve done!’ I look at that picture and remember how this turtle — me — got up on that post.’”
Paige is pastor of Immanuel Christian Church and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.