James wrote, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (3:16). Among the evil practices to which the attitudes of envy and selfish ambition lead are murder and covetousness. People go to war to obtain what they desire whether nations or individuals. James’ concern is for the church where there can also be in fighting to obtain one’s own way. John addressed a church concerning a man who in his selfish ambition desired to be preeminent in that church. “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us” (3 John 1:9). But of course, Christ is to have the preeminence (Col.1:18), and we are to humbly submit our desires to Him, and seek the edification of the church not our own way.
What we selfishly seek for ourselves in the church whether a position or our own way with respect to the church’s ministry, we are tempted to go to war to obtain it. But James says we do not obtain it because we do not ask for it. And if we do ask God for it, we must not seek it to fulfill our own selfish desires or pleasures (4:1-3) . We must humble ourselves before God asking that He might grant what we ask according to His will, for the good of the church and the glory of God.