Tag Archives: James 4

Getting to the Root of Things

Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?
James 4:1 (NRSV)

The further I get in my life journey, the more I have come to understand that I, as a human, am led by my appetites and cravings. The institutional churches I have attended my entire life do not talk much about this. There are the behavioral prohibitions (e.g. “don’t do [fill in the blank]”) but we don’t talk much about understanding and addressing our underlying appetites, and I find it both tragic and fascinating.

Appetites and cravings are actually Theology 101. They were there in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden when the whole thing fell apart:

So when the Eve saw that the tree was good for food (appetite to fill our basic physical desires), and that it was a delight to the eyes (appetite to covet & acquire what delights our eye), and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise (appetite for power and elevation of status) , she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to Adam, who was with her, and he ate.

Looking back, I can see the parallel to my own journey. When I sit down and give consideration to the rotten behaviors which have continually tripped me up in my pursuit of Jesus, when I trace those behaviors back to the branches of wayward thoughts, to the trunk of ill begotten desires, I will eventually dig down to find them all rooted in rotten appetites:

  • The appetite to indulge natural human appetites to excess.
  • The appetite to crave what others have and acquire what I do not
  • The appetite for god-like power and control over others

This morning I’m thinking about the ways I need to make positive changes in my own life. If I’m going to address the rotten fruit that plagues my life, then I have to dig to the appetites in which they were rooted. If I don’t allow God access to dig out the root appetites in my soul, then I can’t expect to see a change to the fruit that is evident in my day-to-day behaviors.

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Chapter-a-Day James 4

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You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. James 4:2-3 (NLT)

The study of acting is really the study of humanity. To portray a character realistically, you have to understand who this person is, how they think, how they talk, and how they move. You have to understand what makes this character, this person tick. Great actors peel away the layers of a character and get to the heart of who he or she really is. The deeper you understand the character, the more fully you can embody him or her on stage.

As I step into a role, one of the first things that I do is a process called “beating the script.” I break my scenes into “beats” or sections determined by what the character is thinking. The underlying premise is that the character wants or desires something at all times. His or Her words are driven by an internal desire. If you identify the characters ultimate “want” then you can begin to connect the dots of “wants” in each moment of the scene from beginning to end. Then, when you play the scene, you don’t play the words, you play the wants.

What’s interesting about this process is that the truth of it is identified right in God’s Message. It’s in today’s chapter. We are all driven by our wants. We each have deep, core desires that determine the things we do and say each day. We want to be secure. We want to be loved. We want to be rich. We want to be famous. We want [fill in the blank]. As we live in relationship each day, those motivations lead us to thoughts, ideas, words, interactions and behaviors.

So, what is it I really want? That is a question with which we each need to grapple, and find the answer for ourselves. When we do, a lot of other things come into focus.