Keeping Up With “The Jones'”

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.   – James 4:3

In the New Testament book, James began this part of his letter focusing on envy; how we often want what others have.  Today, we might call this “keeping up with the Jones’.”  Yet our desire to have more is not the issue – the problems are what we will do to get “it” and why we want “it.”  Will we cheat, steal, kill to get it?  No – of course not!  OK, but might we: exaggerate just a little so that we’re in a better position to get it than someone else, spend now on fun and incidentals instead of saving to provide security for our family, take advantage of another person’s mistake even though they may have to pay from their own pocket later?  These tiny acts chip away at the soul so slowly, we will hardly feel the cumulative effect.

What if, each time such a desire entered into our heart or mind, we stepped back and evaluated – out loud why we want it.  There is something about vocalizing – hearing the words come from your own mouth – that bring these desires into reality.  If the reason sounds silly or selfish – and it often does – don’t act on it.  You may save more than just your money or reputation.  You may save a drain on your spirit that could spiral out of control.

James tells us that, if our motives are right, we should ask God to supply and He will respond.  This is hard for us, because putting it into God’s hands, takes it out of our own – James’ faith in action theme is here again.  Ask God for your “wants” – if having these desires is in your best interest, you’ll have it.

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