REMEMBERING THE DEAD AND THE WHYS OF WAR

warTomorrow we will celebrate the sacrifices of our honored dead. Why will we celebrate this day? We have spoken of that in A Memorial Day Devotion for Christians, and enough we have said. Here we will consider why we fight so many wars.

Have we not read history books and listened to the words of studious historians? Have we not studied many long and thoughtful explanations of the causes of war? And now are we not done with our studies and done listening to those who should know? Did not too many of the “experts” tell us too much, but help us understand too little?

How can we understand the causes of war? What makes men want to kill? To know we need only read three verses from the Epistle of James (see herehere, and here). Then we may begin to understand.

James 4:1-3 English Standard Version (ESV)

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet 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 wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Ask wrongly? Receive what? From whom? What is James babbling about?

And still we know. We know of our own heart. Because we desire what we do not have, we fight to seize what we have no right to have. We want wrongly, and so we war.

Yet what should we do? In the preceding passage, James tells us how to make peace.

James 3:13-18 English Standard Version (ESV)

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

To have peace, we must first make peace with God and accept His wisdom.

So can we stop all the wars? No. Jesus said wars would last until the end of this age (Matthew 24:6, Mark 13:7, and Luke 21:10). In this life we can seek peace, but we cannot force others to live in peace with us. We can refuse to be the cause of wars, but we cannot stop others from making war. We can protect our family, our neighbors, and our countrymen from those who refuse the wisdom that comes down from above, but we cannot force anyone to become wise. With humble prayers to our Lord, we can only do our best to become peacemakers.

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