Campaign update: Heart desires drive our behaviours!
Election season is upon us! Campaigns are in full swing. US citizens get to vote for their President on 8 November. Australians face the polls on 2 July.
The campaign trail is full of announcements, promises and assurances. With the media in tow, they are all aimed at one thing – winning our vote. Candidates do their best to avoid any hint of vulnerability, weakness or uncertainty. They seek to present a charismatic package of strength, purpose, poise, capability and leadership in the hope that we will respond with our vote.
And isn’t that the way of the world? Isn’t there a bit of politician in all of us? Our aim may not be winning someone’s vote, but don’t we often try and present ourselves so we are appreciated, accepted, loved and even admired by others? We might even be able to catch ourselves speaking and acting in ways that we hope will give us some influence over people’s thoughts about us – to agree with us or just like us more. (This is more about us than them.)
It is often this way in conflict too. Why do we sometimes react to someone who has a different view to us by saying angry or negative words, or quarrelling with them? Why do we often find it hard to hear their thoughts, speak gently and respond calmly? Often it is because we actually aren’t getting what we want and think we deserve!
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. 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.” James 4:1-3
The Bible says that the root of our quarrels and fights is our wrong motives – motives that seek to put our own desires and comfort first. We quarrel and fight because we “want what we want, how and when we want it”. Our main concern is not for others or for God – but for ourselves. We close ourselves off to others and even to God.
When we argue and fight, we show by our offensive and inconsiderate actions and words the belief that our desire is not merely our preference, but that it is in fact supremely good, ultimately right and should be satisfied. (Even if we believe that our concern is mainly or solely for the benefit of others, if we intentionally hurt others with unkind words and actions – our behaviour reveals our underlying and dominant motive.)
So what we are to do when we become aware of our strong, self-centred desires? It seems implicit in what James says that when we see these wrong motives we need to go back a few steps and actually consider who we actually trust. Can we only really trust ourselves, or can we truly trust God to give us what is best for us?
So here is the question – Do you really believe that God’s love and concern for you are sufficient and adequate, or do you need to continue to ‘fight’ to find acceptance, love, pleasure and happiness for yourself?
By spending time with God in prayer and reading the Bible, we keep reminding ourselves of his love for us, his goodness and faithfulness to us, and his sovereignty over all of creation including us. We are able to trust him more. As we trust him more we will fight and quarrel less and instead ask and trust God to give us ‘what he wants, how and when he wants”!
It’s worth thinking about!
To find out more about what the Bible has to say about the source of conflict, how our desires can often morph into disastrous disputes and how we can avoid this read Chapter 5 of The Peacemaker (Ken Sande).
(Over this year, through each edition of Peace It Together, we will be sharing the basic peacemaking principles as covered in each chapter of the book, The Peacemaker (by Ken Sande).)