1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel (James 4).
James uses two different words, both of which are translated “source:” the first comes from the word meaning “a drink” (as in a ground source of water), and the second means “from this place.” It is the same imagery he used in verse 11 in the previous chapter concerning “fountains” as sources of water.
James is telling us the ground source of the bitter water of “quarrels and conflicts” between people is their “pleasures” vying for fulfillment, as each person gets in the other’s way of getting what they “envy” and “lust” after. It’s as if we are all walking around with huge sandwich signs reading the same thing: “Just stay out of my way, and no one gets hurt!”
Lord, help us This Day to wear sandwich signs which read: “How can I help you?” Amen.