The hummingbirds gave me quite a show one morning with their quarrel over the cardinal vine on my garden arch.
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3, NASB).
I watched these female ruby-throated hummingbirds and admired the incredible design that allowed them such skill in flight. All the while I felt a little dismayed that these pretty little birds were so greedy. No wonder I stay away from Black Friday sales!
People are not so different from these tiny birds, who were fighting over two vines in the garden about fifteen feet apart, with a filled hummingbird feeder between them! They flitted from one vine to another, and even went for the feeder – chirping, fighting, wings humming loudly as they performed their amazing acrobatics.
It seems sometimes that when people are not quarreling with one another, or flitting around in the pursuit of an elusive happiness, we seem to be asking God for things for our pleasure, as the scripture warns against.
There has been a lot of attention lately on the “Occupy Wall Street” protests. For the life of me, I see little difference between them and my little feathered garden occupants. Whether or not there are some legitimate complaints, it saddens me to see so much emphasis on covetousness of other people’s money or good fortune. “You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.”
The reason why we “cannot obtain” is irrelevant; whether by unfairness or by circumstances or by our own actions. We can and should address wrongs, but fighting and quarreling is not in the Christian’s game plan. Quarreling is condemned here by James without any regard to the reason for the inability to obtain, or why we can’t get ahead.
These birds would not have gone without sustenance. There was plenty of syrup in the feeder and flowers all around. In fact, hummingbirds do not live on nectar or sugar water for survival. They simply use the high-sugar nectar as quick energy to get their real nourishment, which is flying insects. These little birds spent more energy fighting than they would have taken in from the food!
Similarly, we crave things with the wrong motives, to spend it on our pleasures. Yes, we want the sweetness of the good life here on earth, the stuff that our neighbors and friends have, not the real food that is contained in God’s Word.
We ask for things, not for talents to use for God’s work.
We crave money, not opportunities for service. While we need money and possessions as a means to live and work for God, that’s not what is meant to sustain us. Jesus, in his answer to the disciples after talking to the woman at the well, revealed what really nourished him. “I have food that you do not know about” (John 4:32). Service to God nourished our Savior!
Getting our motives in line with God’s will would go a long way toward making us happy with our short journey on earth and will help us get our prayers answered.
God gives us everything we need. There is no need for greed.