In his book “A Nation of Victims,” Charles Sykes wrote:
“For many Americans, the politics of victimization has taken the place of more traditional expressions of morality and equity.”
He went on to quote an article from The Economist, which said of Americans:
“If you lose your job, you can sue for the mental distress of being fired. … If you drive drunk and crash, you can sue somebody for failing to warn you to stop drinking. There is always somebody else to blame.”
Why is that?
I think one of the problems is that as a culture, we’ve bought wholesale into psychology. What concerns me is there are some people in the church today who know more about self-esteem than about self-denial. They know more about inner healing and getting in touch with their inner child than about outward obedience.
So what is the source of our problems? Is it the fault of others? Is it low self-esteem? Is it our family? Is it our culture? Or, is there someone else to blame?
In his New Testament epistle, James gave us the answer. He posed a passionate rhetorical question:
“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you?”
He answers it with a second rhetorical question that gets to the very heart of the subject:
“Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?” (James 4:1).
James is asking, “Where are your problems coming from? What is the source of your problems?” His answer, effectively, was that it comes from ourselves. It comes from our desire for pleasure.
Really when you get down to it, this is the source of all conflict in life, for the most part: conflict in the church … conflict in the home … conflict in the workplace … and really, even conflict abroad, among nations. It comes down to what James was identifying.
James used a key word that gets to the heart of the matter: Desires. In the Greek language, it’s the word hēdōnē, from which we get the English word hedonism. Hedonism, of course, is the basic belief that pleasure is the chief good in life and that one should essentially live for pleasure.
Understand, the Bible is not saying that it’s wrong to desire pleasure in life, because there is pleasure that certainly comes from many good things. Pleasure can come from our relationship with God himself.
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