Parr, Thomas. Healing Contentious Relationships. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2021.
This book is a brief, probing, practical (the Puritans would have said “experimental”) exposition of James 4. I read it slowly over the course of several months as a part of my devotional reading, and I found the book to be both convicting and encouraging. It’s not the kind of book to read quickly in order to get information. It is a book to read slowly and to meditate upon. Parr is not sparing in diagnosing our sin problems:
Do you have contention and strife in your friendships, family life, or church life? Are you willing to accept that it is because of ungodly pride? You might think it is acceptable to have contention due to differences over doctrine and practice, but this is not so. It is godly to affirm doctrinal positions and to seek to live godly lives, but it is not godly to be contentious over these things-“a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all” (2 Tim. 2:24). Contention refers to strife, quarrels, and arguments. To love it is to love sin (Prov. 17:19). There is never an excuse to be harsh or cruel with one’s attitudes, words, and actions, and people who claim the right to do so are arguing for sin. (p. vii)
But he also consistently directs the reader to God’s grace as the solution to our sin problem:
This truth of God’s giving more grace meets a need in our lives we may not be aware we have. God gives continual supplies of grace and isn’t insensitive to the fact that His children have continuing struggles. He never says, “I’ve helped you enough” or “Haven’t you worn out your welcome coming to Me?” The apostle John tells us that all believers have received of Christ’s fullness and “grace for grace,” or grace on top of grace (John 1:16). That means there is a never-ending supply of mercy and help in Christ. He is an ever-flowing fountain of life. Blessing just keeps welling up out of Christ’s generous heart. James promises that God gives more grace; we can come to God for help and never feel rebuffed by Him or that the throne of is empty or that the fountain of life has dried up. (p. 47)
I highly recommend this book.