Tuesday 2 April

4: 1 Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?

2You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask.

It is a curious, broad and challenging statement:

You do not have, because you do not ask.

What is it that I “do not have” because I “do not ask”? Is it the “something” I “commit murder” to obtain?

It seems unlikely that God is waiting to give me the object of my covetousness the lack of which causes me to “engage in disputes and conflicts.”

This may be one of those places in the Bible where we are not well served by chapter divisions. This strange statement follows immediately after James’ claim that,

the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

The truth is I do not actually want those things I “commit murder” to get or that are the object of my covetous desires. What I really want is wisdom, purity, peace, gentleness, a willingness to yield, mercy, a lack of partiality and hypocrisy, righteousness and peace. These are the things for which I long most deeply. And these are precisely the “fruit” God desires to grow in my life.

To “ask” is to open myself, to make myself receptive. Whenever I open myself to the Spirit of gentleness, peace, and mercy, I receive these gifts in abundance.

In Luke 11:13, Jesus is reported to have said,

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

The Spirit is in fact all I truly want. The Spirit brings the nature of God to dwell in my heart. When I open to the presence of God’s Spirit in my life, I become a vessel of the divine, bearing the fruit of the Spirit in the world. What more could I possibly want?