Monday, June 6, 2011

No Pain, No Pain

James 4:1-3

Jealousy again. In a way, it’s comforting to know it has always been a problem among Christians and I’m not the only one. It’s the cause of fighting among us. We want what others have and fight to get it instead of asking God for it.

But, of course, it’s not enough to ask; we must ask with the right motives. We don’t get what we ask for because we only want what will give us pleasure.

I see two ways of looking at this principle.

First, I should want something other than pleasure.

I think “like” is a pretty big word in my vocabulary. I read, eat, watch TV, cuddle my cat and hang out with friends because I like doing those things. They’re pleasurable. So what is more valuable, more important than pleasure? Wisdom, health, strength, love. Trying for any of these things might be painful or self-denying. Lots of time it is not pleasurable.

For example, eating lots of chocolate is pleasurable, but not healthy. So if I want good health, I’ll deny myself the sweets. But if I just want to enjoy myself, I’ll eat the chocolate. It’s hard to walk away from chocolate, but I need to learn to want good health more.

The second way to look at it is that I shouldn’t want pleasure for me.

Instead of asking God for something for me, I should intercede on behalf of the people around me. Instead of asking God to give me something my neighbor has, I should ask God to bless my neighbor even more. Eventually, He will change my heart so that what I want is my neighbor’s blessing instead of the things my neighbor has.

When I see something I want that someone else has, whether it is tangible like a swimming pool or intangible like praise or attention from others, I should stop and ask God to bless the person who has it. Keep them safe when they swim or let the pool be a way of bringing their family together. Let the attention they’re getting bless their hearts so that they can let their love flow out to others.

I have a long way to go, but I know the key to changing my heart is prayer. The more time I spend in God’s presence, the more I will think about Him instead of me. The more I pray for others, the more I will think about them instead of me.

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