My Rights

November 15, 2012

James 4:2-3
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. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

My Rights

Isn’t interesting that James would be writing this, not to the people in the world, but to God’s people? James isn’t mincing any words. He is speaking to attitudes that can be found today in the heart of believers. How do we approach our world? Is it about getting our way whatever means that it takes or is it about each day kneeling in surrender before the throne of Jesus and saying, “Lord have Your way, not my will, but Yours be done.”
Many of us, especially as Americans, are really big on “our rights”. If we think we have a right, God help the person that tramples or violates it. We’ll be all up in their face big time. After all, you aren’t going to get anything if you don’t fight for it. So we will do whatever that takes, we’ll slander and kill with our words, we’ll gossip and turn others against those who oppose us. We’ll even often reject those who won’t pick up our offense and take our side. After all, that is our “right”.
We do exactly what James is talking about here. “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.” You can go to a lot of churches and see the division and the dissention, because someone isn’t getting their way.
Do you think we might have missed something when read what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount? ” “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)”. “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:21-24)”
What do you think should come first, “our rights” or God’s righteousness. When we wonder why our prayers are so impotent and God doesn’t seem to hear us or be close to us perhaps we should examine more closely the spirit and the attitude we are living out of.
I believe God has given us some rights that are precious and worth fighting for, but it is not just about our self-rights. Jesus had rights as well, far more than we do, but what did He do? He willingly laid down those rights. Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!” Was Jesus more concerned about preserving His rights or in imparting His righteousness to us? Our attitude, it says, should be the same as His.
Before we get on our high horse and go to battle for our rights, perhaps we should ask the question of God, “Father what is going to best work your righteousness?”
Don’t allow the lack of character in others cause you to lose yours.
Forgive them and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
It’s not always about being right, but about being righteous.


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