ODJ: Address the Mess

April 9, 2018 

READ: James 4:1-12 

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? (v.1).

A Japanese man finally broke the silence between him and his wife after twenty years.

The source of their epic conflict? His young children were taking much of his wife’s time, and he was jealous. So he clammed up and let the unresolved conflict grow into bitterness. Eventually, it simply turned to silence. Although his wife would regularly try to talk to him, the man didn’t respond. But after two decades, with their children now young adults, the man finally turned to his wife and said, “Somehow it’s been quite a while since we talked. . . . I hope we can work together from here.”

This sad, stranger-than-fiction story illuminates the need for us to address conflicts—address the mess—instead of trying to ignore or bury them. James addressed conflicts within the early church very directly: “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?” (James 4:1). Although believers in Jesus are new creations in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17), we’re still naturally accustomed to destructive habits in our thoughts, actions and relationships.

James explained that conflicts arise when, much like that long-silent husband, we’re “jealous of what others have,” or we’re simply seeking our own “pleasure” (James 4:2-3). Our sin, or the sins of others against us, can result in bitter conflict. But instead of allowing it to dissolve into silence or explode into violence, we’re called to prayerfully bring our grievance to God (vv.2,8) and humbly deal with the issue (vv.6-7,9).

Avoiding conflict can be easy. But it’s also harmful. Addressing conflict can be difficult. But it can result in healing and joy.

In humility, by God’s power, let’s address the mess.

—Tom Felten

365-day plan: 2 Samuel 15:1-37

Read 1 Cor. 13:4-7 and consider how these principles of true love can help you deal with your conflicts in a Christ-like way. 
What conflicts do you need to address? Why is humility vital as you seek to resolve them?