James 4 seems like a downer: “Don’t [fights and quarrels among you] come from your desires that battle within you…you adulterous people…change your laughter into mourning…grieve, mourn, and wail…who are you to judge…what is your life?” Many of our conflicts arise from an attitude of “if only so-and-so would do such-and-such,” but it’s really our evil desires that drag us in.
Let us also take a look at the hope this chapter holds. In v. 3, the Greek form of “ask” refers to asking for one’s self. God calls us to look to him, to exit our selfish desire, and to go to him to see if our desires are true or of the world. God cares for our desires and cares for them being in line with his, and he loves to satisfy us with good things. God has things he’s going to do for us (oppose us when we’re proud, give grace when evil desires grow in us, etc.); our move is to draw near to him and ask of him so that we can receive and fight on behalf of the other instead of against them. Let us make that move towards him.