I CHRONICLES 4:9-10: “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez,a saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” 10 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.”
OBSERVATION: We live in a narcissistic culture. Everyone is interested in themselves. “What’s in it for me?” – is the mantra of the day. We want our 15 minutes of fame. When a picture is taken, immediately we look past everyone else to see how “we” look. We are convinced that the world exists for our happiness. We only want a job that caters to our personal needs and preferences. We look for a church home where we can be blessed. We strive to build a retirement so that we can take ease and do the things that we want. In essence it is all about me…Me…ME!
This is not the mind of Christ. Philippians 2:3-4 exhorts us – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV) This is the mind and heart of Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to show how Jesus emptied Himself of all His glory, gave up all His heavenly stature and prerogatives, became a man, and willingly died on the cross for our sins. This is the epitome of “selflessness” and the antithesis of “narcissism”.
The prayer of Jabez has been marketed and embraced by many, dare I say it – in a narcissistic way. It has been embraced as a prayer that you and I can hang our hat on to “get blessed”! If Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, if he prayed for the Lord to bless him and enlarge his territory, then surely this prayer is for me too – right? Yes, if the goal in our lives is to be blessed. But is that really the goal of the Christian life? Is that the call that is synonymous with taking up our cross and following Jesus? Is that really the mind of Christ? Or is it rather to obey and please the Father? Is it rather to “be a blessing” more than it is to “accumulate blessings”?
I believe the reason Jabez was more honorable than his brothers is because he wanted to break the curse that his mother had spoken over him and live a life that would give glory to God. He was not asking the Lord for personal blessings to heap upon himself. He was asking the Lord to work against the negative edict his mother proclaimed over him. He was asking that the Lord’s blessing would be on his life in such abundance that “…You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain….” This is a giant leap from simply praying – “Hey, bless me Lord!” It is in essence the same prayer that Jesus taught us to pray – “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:11-13 NKJV).
So, with this understanding, with the mind of Christ, and with the heart of the Father, I pray – “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!” In Jesus Name!