James 4:1–6 (NKJV) – Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
Negative thoughts often escalate into negative words and words will only go so far till they manifest into negative actions. If thoughts and words are vile, then offensive actions will eventually follow. If thoughts and words are hate-filled and violent, then these things will spill out of people in their activities. If thoughts and words are love-filled and peaceful, then most welcome these things will abound. I am one voice among millions who have different views and opinions about issues in the world. Sometimes I feel very strongly about certain worldly matters. When I see innocence defiled or tarnished by wicked people I surge with an indignant desire for any legal or non-legal retribution; hang them by the neck! It’s easy to see this sentiment today in the eyes of various groups of people in opposition with one another. Their words and actions pour out from their evil thoughts about one another. What good do hatred and division do for anyone, on any side? They choke and wound the innocent and never heal. Picture many high and long thorn thickets that produce no fruit surrounding new and innocent fruit trees. The nutrient-filled earth in which these trees grow will eventually be stolen away by invasive roots that eat up the good from the ground and produce nothing but thorns.
Now look with human eyes at our innocent children who are untarnished without egotism, but who are tender and pliable, hungry for learning, and ever clinging to our sides for protection. When bitterness and hate abound, they are the ones who are choking and who bleed with the wounds of piercing hate and divisive influences. Now imagine children spending time picking berries and playing in fields of all types of beautiful flowers while being taught with stern gentleness not to eat this or that, or not to touch that thorn bush or go near that bee hive. Instead, we are throwing our children into the thickets of disunity which can only wound and strangle good intentions. I have to constantly reel-in my strong feelings about divisive issues when they arise and vent them to God in prayer. I know that above all, God’s judgments are right and His requirement is for me to love all people. If you want to know what this looks like (and I am far from thinking I have attained to it), all you need to do is look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (ESV).
Difficult to do? Absolutely! But not impossible, and it yields so much more unity and positivity than always wanting to win victory over the opposing issues. One proven fact throughout history is that when humanity gets comfortable enough in the societies they build, they begin to fight over petty differences that have no contributions to the essential spiritual, psychological, or physical requirements of life. Individual elements in all three of these are the same to all of us regardless of what differences we have. When we ignore our commonality with one another, there is an inevitable shift from our collective need for each other to a self-centered and egotistical pursuit of individual desire. Ultimately, this breeds hatred and resentment because the focus is on the differences we have rather than the commonality we share. Just like two completely different types of tree can be feet apart from each other and still share the same ground. They may be different kinds of tree, but both share the same need for the same ground below them. This illustration translates into our common need for God. We, like those different trees, share a need for God that some recognize and some simply ignore. To ignore God does not change one’s need for Him any more than ignoring hunger and thirst will feed or hydrate the body. Eventually, everyone who ignores God will be confronted by Him and have to give an account of why they chose to bear thorns rather than the precious fruit of love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).