When I think of why I have not been getting along with someone, the story always goes like this:
He is so stubborn. She is so controlling. He has a bad attitude. She is always picking on me. He is stupid. She is jealous. He is mean. She never minds her own business. He doesn’t have a good word to say about anyone.
The story always starts with him. Or her. Never me. I am trying to be patient, trying to be kind, trying to overlook the fault, just trying to help him. But he makes it so impossible. She just won’t get off my back.
James has a different idea.
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
It’s inside my heart. I want what I want. I want my way. I think my way is better. I want what you have. I want my comfort. I want my happiness. And I don’t care if it’s at your expense.
The Holy Spirit shows us another way in Jesus. Jesus left the comfort of heaven to rescue us. He allowed people to treat Him however they wanted. He did not force Himself on anyone. He did not follow His own agenda. No, He did whatever He saw the Father doing. He submitted to His Father’s will all the way to a Roman cross where He bled and died while the men whom He loved and came to save mocked Him and spit on Him. This our Savior.
Jesus did all this to bring us home. He gave up His comfort, peace and even His life because He valued our relationship with Him. Our Father longs for peace between us, for us to be loving and kind to each other. And we are arguing about? What??
So then, what shall we do? James tells us:
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you… your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief…
It is not about the argument, or even the other person. It is about humbling ourselves before God. Remembering God is big and knows best and we are small. It is about putting God first, remembering He is most important, not the issue we are fighting about. Satan wants to mess up our relationships. He wants us to argue. He must stand up to Satan. We must choose God’s way. We must be sorry for our selfishness and repent of being careless about others’ feelings.
We need to ask these difficult but important questions: Could I be a little bit wrong here? Could some of this be my fault? Am I listening to her feelings? Could my attitude use a little adjusting? Am I valuing our relationship more than getting my own way? Could it be my turn to submit? If not this time, then when?
Beloved Jesus, it is hard to ask these questions. I don’t want to yield, let go of control, admit I am wrong. But Your Holy Spirit is within me leading me to blessed peace. Remind me the relationship is always more important than the issue we are arguing over. Help me to be Your daughter and forgive, submit, be kind, and trust You for the outcome. You have shown me over and over again that You are faithful and more generous than I could ever ask or imagine.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.