Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to do things but they occurred at the same time? Do you remember how it felt to be torn in two directions? What’s worse is when those two options aren’t about pleasure or leisure but a sense of duty. You can only pick one. Those situations can leave us with emotional pain. We can find ourselves fighting internally to make that choice. So why would we willingly put ourselves in that situation day after day?
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
James wrote about the passions that are at war within us. T. W. Hunt pointed out in The Mind of Christ that this is often the case in practice. If we look at our goals, our relationships, and our desires, we’ll see items in conflict with one another. For instance:
- I want to live for Christ but I don’t want to miss a football game.
- I want to be a prayer warrior but I want time to sleep a bit longer (and I don’t want to go to bed earlier).
- This friend often puts me in a position where I’m in the presence of coarse joking but I want to be closer to Jesus.
We are choosing to allow these conflicts to remain in our lives. These passions war with each other. As a result, we end up somewhere in the middle, making no progress, and losing out on joy. We see this happening in our individual lives and that carries forth into our churches and into our world at large.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If we are willing to be honest with ourselves and if we are willing to let the Holy Spirit show us the truth, we’ll see the conflicts. We’ll see what goals, what passions, what relationships, what desires, are godly and what aren’t. We’ll also come to understand which ones can go either way and why. Then we have hard choices to make. Are we willing to let go of the ungodly ones? Are we willing to choose the godly goals, relationships, and desires?
This is a hard path to follow. However, if Jesus is our all, if our desire is to love Him and bring Him joy, this is the only valid path. Holding on to the ungodly is holding on to something that Christ is at war with. Think about the implications of that for a moment. How can we draw closer to Jesus if we intentionally choose to hold onto to something He is against? How can we say we are seeking to please Him if we decide to continue in a direction that He has spoken against? What will you do with your warring desires?