From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Well, here we go! Because we often get our wisdom from the wrong places, we have envying and strife among us. And because we have those things among us, other things happen. The first of the things we see that happen are “wars,” and “fightings.”
James uses some very strong language here: wars, fightings, fight, war and kill. These are harsh terms being used to describe what our previously discussed jealousy and strife cause to occur.
In Verse 1, “wars,” and “fightings” sound like just a repetition of the same thought, but it is likely they are actually two quite different things. The word used for wars in the original is the same word we get our English word “polemics.” Merriam Webster defines that as follows:
A strong written or spoken attack against someone else’s opinions, beliefs, practices, etc. The art or practice of using language to defend or harshly criticize something or someone
That sums it up quite well. Evidently the word war refers to a more or less ongoing and constant state of conflict within a church literally a “war.” The other word, “fightings,” seems to be used in the sense of more specific, short term conflicts.
The difference is probably not that critical, except in the sense that James is teaching us of the wrongness of this conduct, whether it be long term, continuous conflict within a church, or short term infightings; both are wrong and contrary to what God wants from us.
What, then does God want from us in this area? Well, let’s start with some guidance from our Lord Jesus Himself:
John 13:34,35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
God also inspired other writers of the Bible to share thoughts in this important matter; specifically, we are going to Paul again:
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
What is happening in our churches? Are we showing through our love for one another whose child we are? Or, are we showing the outside world a different face through wars and fightings?