Enlarge Your Territory
1 Chronicles 4:10 - 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.
There is a backstory to this that is important to consider. The prayer of enlarging his territory is related to the promise of God for His people, their inheritance in Canaan. The people, however, were not able to drive out the inhabitants by themselves. As a result, Jabez who is sensible here, decides to neglect his insufficiency in making such a promise a reality and depend on the all-sufficiency of God, therefore praying to God for assistance. What we see here is him asking for blessing upon his own endeavors, to be preserved from the grip that evil so desperately seeks to have, and to, as a consequence, obtain that enlarged inheritance within the promised land. There is such a humility in his expressed prayer to the Father, one of utmost respect and admiration, as well as dependency on the power of God, rather than his own power. If we look at the manner of the prayer, the way in which blessing was requested - "oh, that." "Oh" is essentially showing a feeling of awe, and of respect. "Oh, what an honor to ask" or "oh, I hope the words I am about to speak come out right." Such a high level of respect and humility was shown. Humility is important to render our prayer acceptable. What I mean by this is the exaltation of us, by God, as a consequence of our humility. Lest we forget that God said, in James 4:6, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." The more we humble ourselves, the more God will exalt us. This is important for us to remember with regard to every address to him as we approach His Throne of Grace. God told us, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." Firstly, when we turn from our ways, which are wicked in and of itself because, as we read in Romans 3:23, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," and secondly, humble ourselves, then a number of things happen: He hears our prayers, forgives our sin and heals our land. Humility is the first part of prayer answered, and the first part to living abundantly in Christ. As soon as we lose our humility, we believe that we are abundant, and therefore, because of our fleshly abundance and pride, we miss out on the abundance that God has in His storehouse for us to enjoy. The fact is that there is no greater abundance than abundance in Christ Jesus, but we need humility.
The opposite of humility is pride and pride pertains to no value, it is meaningless and someone who is prideful is someone who simply distances themselves from God. In fact, pride is foolishness, and we understand this when we look at Proverbs 26:12 where we read, "Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him." There is no lacking in scripture when it comes to denunciations and arguments against the self-sufficiency of a mere man. A study of the writings of the wisest of them all, Solomon, leads us to one conclusion, and that is the absurdity of a believe that self-sufficiency is sufficient. The depiction in Probers 26:12 is one of hope versus no hope; there is no hope for a man who views himself as sufficient, but indeed there is at least some hope for a fool, for at least he is open to discipline and transformation. A mediocre` but teachable individual has a greater chance of improvement than one who is exceptional in mental and physical properties, but unwilling to rely on Christ's sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is a lifestyle of outward abundance, rather than inward abundance, an abundance which takes over as a source other than the infinite abundance of Christ. Self-sufficiency can shut down the doors to greater territory. If Jabez was a self-sufficient man, the prayer of Jabez would not exist, and his tent would not have been enlarged, his influence would be lacking, and his life achievements would have lagged behind his calling. Here is a question to ponder - what prayers would be spoken by a man who is content with his own personal sufficiency? The answer is none. Why would one pray for something when he believes he has everything?
"A study of the writings of the wisest of them all, Solomon, leads us to one conclusion, and that is the absurdity of a believe that self-sufficiency is sufficient."
Pride is something that we need to understand as dangerous. You see, the reality is that God absolutely hates pride. In Proverbs 6:16-19, there is a list of six things that the Lord hates. In verse 17, we read that He hates "a proud look." God hates pride, He really doesn't like, and because He doesn't like, what does He do? He "resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Simple! You see, no one has the right to be proud, absolutely no one. By all means, it’s great to celebrate when you do something great, but in every moment, take your hand, hang all the fingers low to the ground, and then point with your index right up to the heavens and say, "thank you Lord!" I don't watch much sport these days because I struggle to make the time, but what I love about the South African rugby team is that many of the players are Christian and they pray before every game they play. Many of players will, in fact, after scoring a try (goal), bend down and look up at the sky, pointing upwards to recognize Him as their Lord and Savior who has given them the wisdom and the goodness which they possess. Whether God has given you great genetics to be highly effective in the sporting industry, or has given you the ability to learn and work quickly, or given you discernment - whatever it is, He has given it to you, and you would not be where you are without Him. Therefore, if He has given us all that we have ever accomplished or obtained, does He not deserve all the honor and is not foolish for us to be proud? There are so many who are wealthy and proud of it, but it’s not their wealth, it’s God's! Jabez did not pray saying, "I have done great things, and I ask that you be with me as I do great things," no, he didn't even speak about himself doing great things, but instead asked that God "would keep me from evil," why? So that he "may not cause pain." Wow! What if a poverty stricken man, the friend of a man who was wealthy was entrusted with a Ferrari, lent to him to drive over the weekend. Suppose the man feels proud of what was entrusted to him and was to boast to his friends - would this not be foolish? It certainly would be. But, we do this often, do we not? We become proud of our achievement, the money which we have. We do this. People are proud of their clothing, another example of the countless which exist. But I propose something different, that, instead of feeling proud of the clothes which we wear, that we feel ashamed of it. Our clothing, whether it is expensive or not is not a showcase of our earning potential, but rather, it is proof that we are sinful, creatures that have fallen. If we just think about where our clothing came from, think back to the garden of Adam and Eve, we immediately realize just how foolish it is to be proud of what we wear. Pride is not an option in the kingdom of heaven.
The thing about pride is that it is profitable for nothing. Let’s look at Matthew 13:12 for example, where we read, "whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them." And in Matthew 23:12 - "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." What we see here is that those who have the abundance of God in their lives, those who believe in and rely on the abundance of God, who with humility, come to the Throne of Grace, will receive even more. To the contrary, those who have neglected the abundance of God, who have with pride, acquired much, will lose that which they have.
Pride is dangerous, and blocks all the abundance that is available to us as His people. Pride not only stops the outpouring of God's grace in our lives as He continues to "give grace to the humble" but results in us being neglected and resisted by Him as He continues to "resist the proud." Pride is so dangerous that it can turn angels into demons. We know that, as per Psalms 11:5, "The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates," therefore God hates the sin that sinners partake in and the sinners themselves, but when it comes to pride, He openly declares His hostility. Why? Because pride turned angels into demons. Other sins bring disgrace and have more shamefulness inside them thereby making them hateful in the eyes of man, pride however requires bravery, the bad kind of bravery and the Lord hates this. It is a sin that bravely stands against God. Other sins are against the laws of God, in other words, because we are in the new covenant, against the character of who Jesus is. Pride is another thing entirely and this sin goes against the sovereignty of God, it’s not only a withdrawal of the heart, but a heart against God. In fact, pride is the father of sin, it fathers the sinner by blinding him, diminishing the judgement or discernment he might have had, and awakens an anger and rebellion against the sovereignty of God. In Proverbs 21:4, we read, "A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin." "Plowing of the wicked," what on earth could that mean? Well, plowing is an act as part of growing produce on the earth, an act that precedes the produce itself. In the same way, pride is the plowing that precedes the sin itself, therefore, pride is the way that produces sin and pride is the father of sin. Pride is something that comes out of motivation to be greater, but greatness not out of ambition to make a difference in the kingdom, but out of pure selfishness, to improve oneself even if it comes with the demise of others.
Jabez prayed that he "may not cause pain." In a similar way to Jabez, there are things that are proclaimed over us, and some of it is good but some of it is bad. The mother of Jabez experienced pain during giving birth, and as a result called him Jabez. The name of Jabez interestingly does not mean pain, it is a play on words, I guess you can call it pun on the Hebrew word "atsab", which means pain. The mother experienced pain giving birth to Jabez, and therefore, the first thing that Jabez did was cause pain, and so, when Jabez prayed that he "may not cause pain," he was asking that his legacy not be one of a man that caused pain, but of a man that had influence and enlarged his territory. He realized that the only way he can do this is by humbly coming to the Father and asking. "For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation" - Psalm 149:4. The word salvation here is yeshuah (יְשׁוּעָה) meaning a number of things that pertain to victory, such as deliverance, help, and prosperity. When we humble ourselves, He beautifies us with victory, and like Jabez, He enlarges our territory.
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