“WAR: a conflict between two parties or nations.” That is the simple dictionary definition for what seems to be a constant threat or a bloody reality in at least one location in the world at any given time.
Most of the time the issues seems to be tremendously complex, whether the war is over a toy dump truck, which TV channel to watch, or a piece of land. Each of the parties involved usually has a long explanation to justify their right to have or take whatever it is they want, or to prevent the other party to take from them. If we could simplify the thinking behind most conflict, perhaps we would hear, “This is mine and I won’t let you take it” or “I like what you have and I am going to take it from you.”
It is relatively easy to sit in front of the evening news and say, “Why don’t they just stop fighting? It’s not worth it.” But the next time the other league team laughs as they walk away with “your” trophy, or someone cuts you off on the highway, or pushes their way into the line-up in front of you, or short-changes you, or takes a swipe at your dignity, let the welling-up of emotion be a reminder -- here is the stuff from which wars are made. They start within the heart of just one person.
The Bible says, “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 the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3).
Some people declare that the way to end war is to “knock all the fight out of the other guy.” Others say that “it takes two to fight, and if one will refuse, the other one has no one to fight.” Others are certain that treaties and agreements will do it. Not according to God’s Word. James points right to the heart of conflict in saying that the motivation behind war is in the sinful desires of the heart.
While we tend to defend the ones that have been defending themselves, or the ones that have been threatened, or whose property has been taken, or whose peace has been disrupted, God first takes a look at the heart. when one man asked Christ to make his brother divide the inheritance with him, Jesus said, “Who made me a judge or a divider over you? Beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses” (Luke 12:13-15).
God’s solution for conflict is to literally go right to the heart of the problem, and change it by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit in what is called a new birth, giving people a new heart with new motives, new trust in the Lord’s provision, and new contentment with what He provides. He says, “And you shall be clean from all your filthiness and your idols... a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you... and I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes...” (Ezekiel 36:25,26).
Whether on the freeways, or in the jungles, sandbox or Sahara, war will never cease unless hearts are changed.