|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-10 Since all wars and fightings come from the corruptions of our own hearts, it is right to mortify those lusts that war in the members. Wordly and fleshly lusts are distempers, which will not allow content or satisfaction. Sinful desires and affections stop prayer, and the working of our desires toward God. And let us beware that we do not abuse or misuse the mercies received, by the disposition of the heart when prayers are granted When men ask of God prosperity, they often ask with wrong aims and intentions. If we thus seek the things of this world, it is just in God to deny them. Unbelieving and cold desires beg denials; and we may be sure that when prayers are rather the language of lusts than of graces, they will return empty. Here is a decided warning to avoid all criminal friendships with this world. Worldly-mindedness is enmity to God. An enemy may be reconciled, but enmity never can be reconciled. A man may have a large portion in things of this life, and yet be kept in the love of God; but he who sets his heart upon the world, who will conform to it rather than lose its friendship, is an enemy to God. So that any one who resolves at all events to be upon friendly terms with the world, must be the enemy of God. Did then the Jews, or the loose professors of Christianity, think the Scripture spake in vain against this worldly-mindedness? or does the Holy Spirit who dwells in all Christians, or the new nature which he creates, produce such fruit? Natural corruption shows itself by envying. The spirit of the world teaches us to lay up, or lay out for ourselves, according to our own fancies; God the Holy Spirit teaches us to be willing to do good to all about us, as we are able. The grace of God will correct and cure the spirit by nature in us; and where he gives grace, he gives another spirit than that of the world. The proud resist God: in their understanding they resist the truths of God; in their will they resist the laws of God; in their passions they resist the providence of God; therefore, no wonder that God resists the proud. How wretched the state of those who make God their enemy! God will give more grace to the humble, because they see their need of it, pray for it are thankful for it, and such shall have it. Submit to God, ver. 7. Submit your understanding to the truth of God; submit your wills to the will of his precept, the will of his providence. Submit yourselves to God, for he is ready to do you good. If we yield to temptations, the devil will continually follow us; but if we put on the whole armour of God, and stand out against him, he will leave us. Let sinners then submit to God, and seek his grace and favour; resisting the devil. All sin must be wept over; here, in godly sorrow, or, hereafter, in eternal misery. And the Lord will not refuse to comfort one who really mourns for sin, or to exalt one who humbles himself before him.
Verse 3. - An evident allusion to the sermon on the mount, Matthew 7:7, "Ask, and it shall be given to you... for every one that asketh receiveth." And yet St. James says, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss;" for our Lord elsewhere limits his teaching, "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing," etc. (Matthew 21:22). Αἰτεῖτε... αἰτεῖσθε. The active and middle voices are similarly interchanged in 1 John 5:15, on which Dr. Westcott writes as follows: "The distinction between the middle and the active is not so sharply drawn; but generally the personal reference is suggested by the middle, while the request is left wholly undefined as to its destination by the active." That ye may consume it upon your lusts; render, with R.V., that ye may spend it in your pleasures; ἡδοναί, as in ver. 1.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Ye ask, and receive not,.... Some there were that did ask of God the blessings of his goodness and providence, and yet these were not bestowed on them; the reason was,
because ye ask amiss; not in the faith of a divine promise; nor with thankfulness for past mercies; nor with submission to the will of God; nor with a right end, to do good to others, and to make use of what might be bestowed, for the honour of God, and the interest of Christ: but
that ye may consume it upon your lusts; indulge to intemperance and luxury; as the man that had much goods laid up for many years did, to the neglect of his own soul, Luke 12:19 or the rich man, who spent all upon his back and his belly, and took no notice of Lazarus at his gate; Luke 16:19.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. Some of them are supposed to say in objection, But we do "ask" (pray); compare Jas 4:2. James replies, It is not enough to ask for good things, but we must ask with a good spirit and intention. "Ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it (your object of prayer) upon (literally, 'in') your lusts (literally, 'pleasures')"; not that ye may have the things you need for the service of God. Contrast Jas 1:5 with Mt 6:31, 32. If ye prayed aright, all your proper wants would be supplied; the improper cravings which produce "wars and fightings" would then cease. Even believers' prayers are often best answered when their desires are most opposed.
James 4:3 Parallel Commentaries
James 4:3 NIV
James 4:3 NLT
James 4:3 ESV
James 4:3 NASB
James 4:3 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible