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.
James has shown us in the first half of these opening passages how we can mistake our desires which stem from our self-centered sin nature and our lusts, as being good and worthy. Even worse, we can claim God put those desires in our hearts, when in fact they are sinful desires, which stem from a heart still focused on the things of this world and not on God. And many times people, even believers who are not aware of this will then pray for the fulfillment of their desires, which are wrong in the eyes of God. And when they do not get what they desire, they fail to understand God’s answer was no. They claim God is not on their side or God is working against them, when in fact they have failed to seek God’s will in their lives. They fail to understand that God’s desire is that they stop chasing after their lust and turn their hearts over to the Lord. And that is part of what James is speaking about here in these passages.
In addition, James is also alluding to the spiritual blessings we have squandered and missed out on because we have not turned control of our lives over to the Lord. It’s very important for us to understand, as it relates to His kingdom work and the spread of the Gospel, God has more planned for us than we have for ourselves. Through submission to the Holy Spirit on a day to day basis, we can accomplish more and do more of God’s kingdom work, than we ever imagined without Him. Therefore, when we spend our time and energy on the things of this world, we miss out on God’s blessings and what He has planned for us. Moreover, we lose out on a more abundant life in Christ, which God in His immense love for us, is waiting to give us. Which means in the end, we have a life with a lot less joy, a lot less love and a lot less fulfillment. And as a result a life which is a lot less abundant than what God wanted for us. This is because we followed our desires which led to loss, we refused to submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and we ignored God’s will, which promised a more abundant life in Christ. And we did so because we failed to realize that in order to have a “more abundant life in Christ,” we must first belong to Him and submit to His lordship in our lives.