Read This Week’s Passage: James 4:1–10

What Do You Desire?

In a world where it’s easier to blame everyone and everything else, James begins chapter 4 by dismantling that mindset entirely: Where do all of the issues come from? You. Worldly problems being solved in a worldly way will never be fixed. But the issue is never the fruit; it’s the root.

James could have described his listeners a few different ways, but he chooses to use the label of someone who is unfaithful to their spouse, often in a very intimate and personal way. It is spiritual adultery to seek the affections of the world while claiming intimacy with God. Friendship with the world cannot be held in tandem with closeness with God; it is not, “should not,” but cannot. Where someone is investing, pouring their desires, and focusing betrays where their loyalties lie, even if their words say something different.

One does not even need to be successful in the world to turn one’s back on God. James says, “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4; emphasis supplied). It is possible to look like a God follower on the outside and yet desire something else entirely on the inside. The self-diagnosis questions, then, are: What do you really want? Where are your desires leaning? And where are you encouraging them to go?