Reflecting on James 3:16-4:3
I had heard about this outrageous behavior, but didn’t realize it actually happened, until, in the past several years, many friends confided to me that at least one of their siblings had embezzled money from their parents’ estate in the years before their deaths. Then, astonishingly, they demanded even more than their share of the estate―often in blatant disregard of the parents’ express wishes―after their deaths.
Where do the wars and conflicts among you come from? asks the letter of James today. They come from exactly this kind of behavior. If there are five children, and an estate is supposed to be divided equally among them, then one child does not demand―or steal, as it turns out―more than twenty percent of the estate. Somehow, this easy math eludes a huge number of adults today, who apparently never catch on that their share of the pie is in direct proportion to the number of people at the table.
Why can’t we ever seem to remember that? How is it that adult children ask that they receive more than their share of an estate, with the certain result that their parents’ other children receive less?
You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Now that makes sense. If we consider that God is the creator of ALL life, than asking God to give us more (so that the rest of God’s creatures can have less) is a waste of God’s time and ours. Indeed, as Dag Hammarskjöld wrote, “Your cravings as a human animal do not become a prayer just because it is God whom you ask to attend to them.”
Do you ever assume that you are entitled to more than your share of the earth’s resources?