Anatomy of a Fight

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” James 4:1

Interpersonal conflicts, whether in the home, on the job, or in the church, are the result of sin. “Sin is the cause of all trouble – sin is the cause of it all.” At every level, war is the product of man’s native depravity. Understanding this principle is basic and fundamental to achieving harmony and unity in interpersonal relationships.

It works like this. Man’s natural fallenness manifests itself in self-interest. By nature, people are self-concerned, self-centered, self-absorbed, and self-protective. This preoccupation with self displays itself in desires or cravings, passions the Bible calls “lusts.” Compelled by these cravings for personal comfort, happiness, and gratification, the natural man literally lives for himself (2 Cor. 5:15). When he senses that someone else (who also operates from this natural self-interest) threatens his commitment to self-fulfillment, he lashes out in anger, either in subtle or in more overt forms. Two sinners, therefore, each controlled by the old nature make for an explosive force more powerful than dynamite.

In a word, people fight between themselves because they have already lost the battle on the inside. It is only through the conscious practice of self-forgetful, self-sacrificing, and self-effacing discipleship that the precious gift of relational peace will be realized. In a culture like ours in which people are regularly encouraged to assert themselves, Christians must rediscover the priority of Jesus’ call to self-denial: “If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Win the battle in your heart, and you will avoid a war with others.

– Michael L. Gowens