Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 3 – The big request of an honorable man

Jabez called out to the God of Israel: “If only You would bless me, extend my border, let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm, so that I will not cause any pain.” And God granted his request. (1 Chronicles 4:10 HCSB)

In the middle of a long list of the descendants of Judah, comes a quick break to tell us this interesting detail about Jabez. The Bible never mentions anything for no reason, so it’s significant that this prayer of Jabez is singled out. Not only that, but the result of that prayer is stated plainly: “And God granted his request.”

Jabez’s prayer is short and sweet, but he’s asking quite a lot. He asks to be blessed, for his borders or properties to expand, for the hand and favor of God to be on him, to be protected from harm, and to see that he causes no one any harm as well. For that request to be fully granted, it would require God’s intervention every single day of his life, protecting him from known and unknown problems, and opening known and unknown doors of opportunity for him. The question is, why would God so readily grant such a big request to this otherwise unexceptional man?  

In verse 9, it says that Jabez was “more honorable than his brothers.” Just as his simple prayer asked a lot, this statement says a lot. To be honorable is to be faithful to God no matter the circumstances, living in fear of God before seeking the favor of men. An honorable person does what is right, even when no one is watching or no one gives him any credit for what he does. For Jabez to have that reputation before God means that he had a solid faith in the promises of God’s commands. He stuck out like a sore thumb from among his brothers. You can pretend to be honorable for a time, but only those with true faith in a living God can withstand all the pressure to cave into fleshly behavior. That spirit was evident in the first century believers who stubbornly held onto their faith, considering it an honor to die for Christ. That’s the perseverance that is listed as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. 

This promise, just like all the other promises in the Bible, isn’t a magic formula to get rich quick and live a long happy life. There’s no doubt that God is happy to answer this request to any of us, because it reflects so many other promises throughout His word. But are we living honorably before God? Do our choices reflect a desire to impress and gain the praise of influential people, or are they purely to obey Him? Sometimes pleasing Him means displeasing others – do we believe so much that we take that risk? God knows our motives. He also sees the audacity of our faith to dare to ask for such a huge request like Jabez. Those who honor Him and dare to believe in a big God are the ones who can see this promise come true. 

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