Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. (I Chronicles 4:9-10).
We gag on the “P” word. “Prosperity” masquerades as a forbidden fruit for a genuine Jesus-follower. The very idea conjures up images of white-shoed charlatans fleecing the faithful, and we want no part of that. But why the push back? Why are we hesitant to leverage Biblical precedent for the promise of God’s favor, now and forever? Could it be hidden pride?
Jabez lived under a curse. Each time his pitiful name was spoken he felt a pang of rejection. Jabez was pain incarnate. But his honor reached out for more. He knew his people had a covenant with a merciful God. Out of pain, Jabez came forward to claim his share of goodness. He believed that God’s character gave him the right to seek and insist on prosperity. He discovered that to accept a cursed life was to curse the God who gave him life. Seeking blessing was a way to bless God. Asking for prosperity is worship!
Jabez appeals to God in four progressive requests.
- He asks simply and directly for personal blessing.
- He describes his desire – that God would expand his domain of influence.
- With more influence comes more responsibility; Jabez asks for God’s strength to govern that responsibility wisely.
- He asks for protection to go with the provision so that he may not fall back under his old curse.
And God granted his prayer. God prospered Jabez.
“Oh Father, that you would bless me. I am your child, not a slave in your household. You are never offended when I presume on your goodness. It is your ‘good pleasure’ to make my life fruitful. So extend my influence. You put me on earth to steward creation. I’m asking for more authority and responsibility, and I’m specific in my requests. Then increase my capacity to manage these blessings. I need your wisdom and your courage to handle these new opportunities. And finally, keep me on track, so that I do not fall back again into old unbelieving patterns that lead only to defeat and pain. Your desires for me are far greater than I can even imagine. I reach out for your first best!”