The cause of our struggles in life are not other people or our situations. The cause of our struggles is the HEART that we bring to those people and those situations.
When we are faced with conflict, it is natural to blame the other person. In doing so, we often respond in sin. We create mini-wars between us and the other person. The soul purpose of any war is control. We desire, in essence, to be God. We want to control things. We want things to go our way.
Think about the last time you really wanted something done your way. Someone presented a different idea, and you didn’t like it. Conflict probably began. Depending on how much you needed to feel right, or how strongly you desired a specific outcome, the conflict may have been intense. Maybe you stopped speaking to the person.
When the desires of our heart butt up against someone preventing us from achieving them, love and care leave us. They are replaced with anger, avoidance, the silent treatment, hurtful words, and even vengeance.
Most arguments you enter with the goal of winning. Depending on how strongly you desire the idol causing you to argue, you may win at all costs. Most arguments you enter with the goal of showing love, you will lose. But what you gain from losing with love outweighs what you win from winning at all costs.
Often, we allow Satan to divide and conquer our relationships over petty things. If we don’t get our way, we slander or gossip about the other person. We ensure others know why we were right and they were wrong, or we work to make them look small while building our own image.
It is okay to have needs and wants. We were designed to want so we could want to worship God. But once your desire leads you to sin, it is no longer a healthy desire.
The idols that we put in place of God often stem from a lack of trust in who He is. Human conflict is rooted in spiritual adulatory. You give the love that belongs to God to someone or something else. In the end, your desires overcome the love you have for other people and for God.
James 4:1-10 (NIV), which reminds us: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 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. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
Adapted From: Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp.