What Does James 4:2 Mean?

You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.

James 4:2(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

So much in Scripture points to right thinking. We are to take every thought captive to Christ. We are to let His mind dwell in us richly. We are to have this same attitude in ourselves that was in Christ Jesus. We are to look to the Lord Jesus as our example in selfless humility. We are to focus our thoughts on what is right in the sight of God and all people. We are to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not to lean on our own, limited understanding.

Aligning our human will with the sovereign will of our eternal God, is an important key to living a victorious and contented life in this world, while at the same time we will be laying up for ourselves treasure in heaven, in the ages to come. If the desires of our heart reflect those of our heavenly Father, they will be good and wholesome; they will be wise and pure. 

When the fruit of righteousness is sown in the heart, by faith in Christ, we reap a heavenly reward. But all too often the old sin nature causes the lust of the flesh and the pride of life to rear its ugly head so that we desire foolish things and think and ask unwisely. When we stray from the path of righteousness, we cause our carnal craving to give birth to sinful actions, evil attitudes, and a covetous heart.

James picks up this human trait of covetousness, which all too often can manifest itself in the life of a believer. Too often carnal cravings occur when the fleshly desires within each one of us are not kept in check, for the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit lusts against the flesh. The old sin nature will continue to expose itself throughout our earthly activities and attitudes, which is why we are reminded that we must keep 'self', nailed to the cross so that we will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.

It is a craving for pleasure and an insatiable desire to gratify one's own bodily appetites that causes covetousness to become such a serious issue in our lives, and which caused James to spend considerable effort and time in identifying its deadly cause and addressing its much-needed cure. Indeed, James points out that the sin of covetousness is so powerful that he allies its fruit with murder, which is rooted in anger, envy, bitterness, malice, cruelty, savagery, inhumanity, and greed.

When the covetous self is determined to have its own way, it often translates into hidden manipulations and blatantly evil actions, which can even pour forth in the form of pious praying. But God does not recognise prayer that is birthed in an envious heart nor is He influenced by our petulant pleas to satisfy our own fleshly cravings.

But He does hear and answer all prayers that are good and wholesome, wise and pure... for such prayers line-up with His Own perfect will. When we ask according to His will, then God hears and answers our pleas. Indeed, Jesus was the perfect example of a Man who aligned His will with the will of God and was able to pray on all occasions,  "THY will, not mine be done". But when our prayers are simply seeking to gratify the desires of the flesh – then we will not receive because we ask amiss.

Our heavenly Father loves to answer the prayers of His children when they are asked aright and are poured forth from a humble heart that loves and trusts Him and is seeking to do His will. Let us in our prayers, delight ourselves in the Lord and pray aright, by aligning our will to the will of God so that we may live a victorious life and be content in all things, to His praise and glory.

My Prayer

Loving Father I do want to pray aright and to pray into Your perfect will. Keep me, I pray, from such covetous thoughts that anchor me to this world, which I know have nothing to offer, but rather help me to focus my eyes on You and keep my ears ever open to Your voice, so that I may pray in spirit and truth and proclaim, "Thy will be done" - in Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.

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