James 4:1-3 – What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (NIV)
James 4:10 – Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (NIV)
Her real name is Lucy, but I call her Bossy, because that is how she is. When things don't go her way, she begins butting whatever is in her way! Sometimes, it is one of the dogs that has strayed too close. Other times, it is the car or van. Both have dented doors and scarred paint jobs from her tantrums. In fact, her behaviour is so bad when she gets in a snit on account of not getting her own way that she has been designated to her pen — full-time. No longer is she able to graze the lush hillside at will with her companion.
Lucy is a goat, but how her behaviour reminds me of the way some people like to act when they don't get their own way. One would think that such behaviour would be relegated only to non-Christians. Yet, as we read in James, this is simply not true. Christians, unfortunately, can be just as guilty of selfish, bossy actions as non-believers. How often have churches been split due to warring brothers and sisters in Christ? How often has a pastor had to resign or had a reputation bludgeoned or even murdered due to a member or members of the flock bashing his or her good name, simply because things in the church are not going their way? How many young Christians have thrown their hands up in disgust and walked away from the church due to the poor example of the so-called mature Christians in their midst who snipe and jab and gnash at one another due to a difference of opinion? James makes it very clear that such behaviour is not of God but of our own wrong motives and desires.
Lucy is a goat. She does not know the difference between right and wrong, pride and humility. She is not accountable for her actions. As Christians, however, we are accountable. We are able to choose between pride and humility.
Today, if we find ourselves locking horns with others, let us stop. Let us stop and consider the situation. Let us ask Christ, the Good Shepherd, to grant each one clarity and grace for the situation — that each of us may be a wise and obedient sheep, rather than an ornery old goat.
Prayer: Lord God, we want to please You in all we do and say and think. Purify our hearts this day, and grant us Your spirit of humility in all our dealings, that we might draw others to You, rather than butting them away. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.