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July 15, 1998

The Battle Inside

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What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? JAMES 4:1
Conflict is a fact of life. It comes in all sizes, shapes, and degrees of intensity. It occurs between siblings, between spouses, between workers, between companies, and between nations.
James connects all external conflict with a battle that is raging inside the hearts of men. Whether it’s chronic hostility, a misunderstanding, a grudge, or a quarrel that will not go away, the source of the tension is within our own selves. This reminds us of when Jesus humorously pointed out that although we are so concerned about the speck of sawdust in our brother’s eye, we should be more focused on the large planks in our own eyes (Matthew 7:3-5).
The battleground of conflict is within our own minds and hearts. Achieving victory in this area doesn’t require an external arranging of life and circumstances; it involves coming to peace and settlement within our own hearts. Jesus warned us that we would have trouble in this world, but He also promised that we could still have peace in our hearts because He has already overcome the world (John 16:33).
When we rest in that promise, the desires that battle within us—those selfish attitudes and actions that draw us into conflict with our friends, family members, and coworkers—lose some of their attractiveness. They’re still there, of course. But when we trust in Jesus and allow His desires to become our desires, we are less likely to engage in conflict. Peace, not strife, becomes our priority.
Check your heart. Is it full of envy, bitterness, tension, and all the other things that lead to conflict? Or is it brimming over with the peace that only God can bring?

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