What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:1-10 ESV)
Have I ever told you about the time that I almost scored for the opposing team? It’s pretty embarrassing. I was in middle school and I was playing church league basketball. Because it was church league there was a very broad age range and so there were lots of guys better than me. But also because it was church league I got to play at least two minutes every quarter. So they put me in just after the half and I get the ball and start dribbling towards a wide open goal. There is no one in my way. I hear the other team yelling, “Stop him! Stop him! He’s going to score!” What I didn’t realize was that it was my own teammates yelling out. You see we had switched goals at the half. The goal I was headed towards was now our opponents goal. The sad part is that I actually shot the ball and missed before I realized that I was headed the wrong way. I was more concerned with making a goal than playing with my team. I’ve never been so happy to miss a goal in my life!
You know we fall into trouble when we focus on ourselves rather than focusing on God. The author of James reminds us that when we focus on ourselves we miss God. The good news is that if you catch yourself being selfish all you need to do is repent, return to God and he will give you a fresh start.