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Be a Jabez!
In 1 Chronicles 4, buried deep between a list of family names is a remarkable prayer by a man named Jabez.
The prayer of Jabez
Start reading 1 Chronicles 4 and your initial reaction might be: “Oh no, another chapter like many others in Chronicles where they just make a long list of family trees. Let me rather just skip this chapter …”
But as you read through the names of the family of Judah, listed one after the other, you will reach verses 9 and 10, which break away from the list, stating:
“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez [Hebrew for ‘he makes sorrowful’], saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.” 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.
And then the chapter continues as it began, with a long list of names, which makes verses 9 and 10 stand out even more.
Why was Jabez mentioned?
God was so enthusiastic about Jabez, who called out to Him in prayer and asked for help, that He simply gave him what he asked for and made sure that it was mentioned in the middle of a list of family names, which was in the middle of a book full of lists of family names.
What was it about Jabez that made him “stand out from the crowd,” from God’s perspective?
There are some verses in the New Testament that might give us a clue. They also describe a young man who stood out from the crowd, possibly for the same reasons as Jabez. Philippians 2:19-22 speak about a young man called Timothy:
“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.”
Timothy, like Jabez, was someone whom God was enthusiastic about, because he was the only one with Paul at that time who did not seek his own benefits and interests. He had genuinely given up living a self-centered life, in which all his decisions and actions were motivated by what he thought was best for himself. Rather, he had decided to find out what Jesus wanted him to do and then did only that.
Self-centered by nature
Living a self-centered life comes naturally for all of us. In fact, it has been said that a newborn baby is 100 percent self-centered, since it is only focused on its own needs and desires. It has no awareness or consideration for the needs or the enjoyment of those around it, and neither is it capable of doing so. But as a child grows up, becomes aware of its surroundings and learns to interact with others, it is taught how to share, help, and be kind.
By nature, a child’s sole focus is usually on fun, entertainment and getting as much as possible of everything that is pleasant for itself. This is also a familiar phenomenon among teenagers, and regrettably, also adults.
How many children and young people have thoughts like this, and act upon them? “I’m sure my father, mother, brothers and sisters need help with something today. I wonder what I can do to make things easier for them? I don’t want to be the cause of frustration and stress for those around me.”
How many adults realize that selfishness is one of the causes of conflict in the workplace or in relationships, where neither party is willing to back down from their own opinions, wants and demands? There are many examples which can illustrate how we as children, youth and eventually adults can causeto those around us because of our selfishness, in both small and far-reaching ways.
The question is, how many of us have come to the realization that our selfish actions can cause sorrow to others? How many of us see our selfishness, and start to sorrow about the way we think and behave? Perhaps many of us have just learnt clever ways of manipulating people and situations so that we get what we want in the end, even at the expense of others, without necessarily living an overtly “bad” life.
Stand out from the crowd!
Jabez pleaded with God to keep him from evil so that he would not cause pain and sorrow to those around him. This made him more honorable than his brothers, which is why God simply granted his request. From that time onwards, God helped him to be a blessing to his surroundings.
So be a Jabez – a young person whom God is enthusiastic about! Be a young person who is more honorable than most around you – in your family, school or workplace – not because you are better than others, but because you are honorable enough to admit that you need help from God. Be humble enough to go to God in prayer, like Jabez did, seriously asking Him for help to overcome all evil. Speak to Jesus like Timothy did, so that you find out what He wants you to do in the different situations of life.
When God looks at mankind, you will stand out from the crowd, and He will simply give you what you request, just like He did for Jabez!
Our sin and pride cause pain and suffering to ourselves and those around us. Let us be in a need, like Jabez, to get God on our side so that there comes an end to all the pain that we cause.
Be a Jabez!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.