James 4:2

2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

James 4:2 in Other Translations

KJV
2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
ESV
2 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.
NLT
2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.
MSG
2 You lust for what you don't have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn't yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
CSB
2 You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask.

James 4:2 Meaning and Commentary

James 4:2

Ye lust, and have not
The apostle proceeds to show the unsuccessfulness of many in their desires and pursuits after worldly things; some might be like the sluggard, whose soul desireth all good things, and yet he has nothing, ( Proverbs 13:4 ) because he does not make use of any means, even of such as are proper and necessary, and ought to be used:

ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain;
some, instead of kill, which seems not so agreeable, read envy; and then the sense is, they envy at the good and happiness of others, and covet after another's property, but cannot enjoy it; all such envy and covetousness are fruitless, as well as sinful:

ye fight and war, yet ye have not;
go to law one with another about each other's property; or rather, make a great stir and hustle to get the things of the world; rise early, and sit up late; strive who should get most, and quarrel about what is gotten, and seek to get all advantages of one another; and yet still have not, what at least is desired and strove for:

because ye ask not;
of God, whose blessing only makes rich: instead of all this worldly stir and bustle, and these strivings and quarrellings with one another, it would be much more advisable, and, in the issue, be found to turn to more account, to pray to God for a blessing on your endeavours; and to ask of him the good and necessary things of life, in submission to his will, and with thankfulness for what he has bestowed.

James 4:2 In-Context

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.
3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us ?

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Cross References 1

  • 1. Matthew 5:21,22; James 5:6; 1 John 3:15