War. What is it good for?

I’m not thinking about war in Iraq or Afghanistan, or even Vietnam or Korea or WWII. This song, every time I hear it, makes me think about the internal skirmishes we have between flesh and spirit, the battle for control or power or authority in relationships.

“What leads to strife (discord and feuds) and how do conflicts (quarrels and fightings) originate among you? Do they not arise from your sensual desires that are ever warring in your bodily members?”

James 4:1 The Amplified Bible
Consider this: What leads to you fall off the diet wagon? How do half a dozen cookies end up in you when you’re trying to lose weight? Is it not caused by your hunger and desire for sweets that demands a cookie but can’t stop at one?
You can apply the same principle to overspending… or excessive drinking or smoking… failure to exercise… or squabbles with a spouse, parent, or sibling. The root cause of the conflict is the same: you want your way, no matter what it costs you or those around you.
 “You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled: [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] you burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war…”

(James 4:2a)
War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.
Even those quiet, internal wars are destructive. The ones that never rise all the way to the surface in the form of rage, wrath, or temper tantrums. According to this verse, hatred has the same effect on our souls and bodies as murder. We’re killing ourselves slowly with strife.
It’s like the child who wants attention, but resorts to bad behavior to get it. They get attention all right, but not the kind of attention they’re craving. We seek peace, contentment, and satisfaction, but go after them by trying to steal another’s peace, crush their contentment, or rob their satisfaction, and then wonder why we aren’t happy.
A toddler girl cryingImage via Wikipedia

Too often we act like cranky toddlers in need of a nap, striking out at those around us in a fit of rage. In an attempt to soothe us, people hand us toys and snacks and sippy cups, but nothing satisfies, and pretty soon our decibel level reaches ear-shattering pitch. Eventually, we collapse in exhaustion, but not before we’ve made everyone around us miserable.

And we think we grow up.
What about the adult who has a lousy day at work, gets reamed out by the boss, has a flat tire on the way home, and then picks a fight with his wife because dinner’s not ready when he gets home?

Or the grown woman who goes shopping for a new outfit, realizes she’s gained a few pounds, and in her shame and frustration at her inability to stay on a diet, has a fit of road rage on her way out of the mall parking lot.

Our toys get bigger – boats and motorcycles and ridiculously expensive shoes. Our snacks might become a pattern of binging, or relying on some substance to settle us down. Our sippy cups aren’t full of apple juice anymore, they’ve become one too many apple martinis. Demands to be picked up or put down become demands to move to a new state or to get a new job. Our temper tantrums turn into abuse and destructive behavior. And still, we just can’t find the peace we crave.

“You do not have, because you do not ask.” James 4:2b
Are you in conflict today? With anyone? With yourself?
Trace that point of contention to its root. What is it you’re REALLY after? Who is it you’re really fighting?
Before you pitch a fit, make a fool of yourself, and expose your immaturity again, go somewhere quiet and ask God about it. The One who made you knows exactly how to satisfy your weary soul.

War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

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4 thoughts on “War. What is it good for?

  1. pattil says:

    Should've read it b/f my pitched fit last Friday…

    Great, great post.

    Love that song, War.


  2. Jill Kemerer says:

    Great post! The passage from James you quote toward the end speaks to me. I've been meditating on this for about three months. Coming to God and asking is something I'm doing on a daily basis. We don't have to do everything on our own!

  3. Niki Turner says:

    Thanks, Caitlin. Multimedia really is more than a sheet and a slide projector! : )

    Patti, YOU pitched a fit??? I'm shocked beyond words. (Kidding, dear Inkie sis.)

    Jill, I'm beginning to think most of the messes I get myself into are the result of failing to ask for help before I open my mouth and insert my foot!

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