1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. – James 4:1-3
“You can’t always get what you want.”
The Rolling Stones debuted those lyrics in 1969. While they are considered Rock ’N Roll legends, they do manage to tap into a Biblical truth along the way.
“No, you can’t always get what you want.”
The trouble is, we try anyway. Our desires drive us to action, and those actions can lead to hurting other people. James says that the our fights and quarrels come from unmet desires which we are trying to fulfill.
Think about it, the argument with your co-worker: is it not ultimately over you not getting things done “your” way? Or the spat with your spouse over finances: isn’t it about not having what you desire for the family?
We have problems with other people over our deep wants and desires. So we turn to God. It’s what we’re told to do with our problems, isn’t it? Take your requests and make them known to God. But still we “can’t get no satisfaction.”
It’s not because God doesn’t care. It’s not because God isn’t listening. It’s because our desires are selfish.
Desire is tainted by sin. Sin has a tendency to corrupt everything it touches; therefore our heart’s desire is a casualty to the effects of the Fall.
Want less strife with people? Have different desires.
Want God to answer your requests? Have different desires.
Now clearly you can’t just change your desires, but your desires can be remade. As you grow in spiritual maturity, as you walk more through life with Jesus, the selfish desires of our hearts get reframed as desires for the good of others.
Want God to answer the desires of your heart? Have a heart for others.
“You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need”