MITRA: Avoiding selfishness
When the famous Bible teacher Dr. Henry Ironside was young and recently married, he gave vent to his personal feelings now and then.
One Sunday, having preached five times, he was on his way home and sat feeling sorry for himself. When his wife said something to him, he answered her curtly.
When she rebuked him, he replied, “Don’t you realize that I am worn out?”
She responded, “Well, if you think you have something to complain about, look at me!
I have had to listen to you five times and am equally tired as you.”
Dr. Ironside had to apologize.
He realized that no Christian has the right to let his personal feelings lead him to wound others in order to indulge his own selfish mood.
Selfishness is perhaps the chief form of pride and the root principle of sin.
Self and God are two contrasting life principles and goals.
Chapter four in the New Testament book of James is a key passage on the theme of self. It describes the inner working of the human soul.
In James 4:1-4, we see how God sees the human heart.
Self-interest, rather than the Holy Spirit, regulates the lives of many.
The result is not only personal frustration but discord with others.
The source of “quarrels and conflicts” among believers is the self-pleasing that dominates members of a group.
When everyone thinks of himself most important, harmony and cooperation are unlikely.
“Lust,” in this passage, refers to sensual passion, but it can also mean any strong desire for what is not God’s will.
It causes unrest , divided loyalties, and frustration in the life of Christians.
They complain about their lack of peace, but too often they do not get victory because they really do not want it more than they want their own selfish indulgence.
Evangelist George Mueller of Bristol once said of himself, “When I face my own heart honestly, I discover that 95% of my problems are myself and my own selfish desires.”
Verse 2 is a description of frustrated sinful desire.
The context shows that James is speaking about backslidden worldly believers.
No one can find real satisfaction in sinning, but a Christian finds even less.
The reason is that he has to defy the inner witness of the Holy
Spirit, God’s Word, and his own enlightened conscience.
Instead of fighting for what we want, we ought to pray about it and accept God’s answer, whether it’s a “yes” or a “no”.
Sometimes God does not answer our prayers because we are asking for the wrong thing or with the wrong motive (v. 3).
The Christians to whom James wrote were not getting answers to some of their prayers because their desires were wrong.
Our great need is to want the right things, things that will be for God’s glory and for our good.
There is no prayer that we all need to pray as much as the prayer that we may love what God commands and desire what He promises.