JABEZ AN EXAMPLE OF A FAITHFUL SERVANT
Biblical Research Monthly, January 1944
Jabez, a faithful servant of the Lord in ancient Israel, had the right conception concerning God and his relation to Him. He realized that the Lord was all powerful and that all things are in His hands. Furthermore, he realized that it is in God that we live and move and have our continual being. With such a conception of the Lord, and with an unswerving faith in the Almighty's interest in human lives, he thus fervently prayed what I consider one of the greatest petitions in the Scriptures.
THE first thing which Jabez requested was, "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed." This man knew how to put first things first. He therefore invoked the Lord's special blessings upon himself in order that he might be used of God in being a blessing in his day and generation. This conception is in perfect accord with the instructions of the Lord Jesus Christ who said, "But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). One is wasting breath if one asks God to do things for oneself while at the same time one has never personally sought the Lord. God has provided all things for those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord, Saviour, and Master. Paul declared that Jehovah "hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3).
AND JABEZ called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that thy hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it be not to my sorrow! And God granted him that which he requested (I Chron. 4:10).
All too many of us have poor spiritual sight. We seem to be unable to recognize His abounding blessings already granted to us and insist upon His doing that which He has already done. We would do well to take heed to the admonition contained in the well known song, "Count Your Blessings." The special thought in this to which I wish to call your attention is that contained in the lines,
"When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done."
Although He has showered His blessings upon us, it is obvious that we stand in need of additional blessings every day to meet new situations that constantly arise. In view of this fact, let us pray as this ancient servant of God did, "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!"
THE second request of his petition is, "and enlarge my border." This is an appropriate petition for one to make when one has already occupied the field or territory which the Lord has committed to him. Someone has aptly said, "Get your tools ready and God will supply the work." The first thing for a person who wishes to be in the center of God's holy, directive will, to do is to get ready the tools which God has entrusted to him. Then the Lord will supply the work. Of course, you must realize that this statement is not to be taken literally. The tools referred to are the mental abilities and the spiritual equipment with which God has endowed us. To each individual He has given certain talents and capabilities. He expects each one of us to develop them in order that we might use them in His service.
Men will not entrust responsible positions with their duties into the hands of those who are not prepared to function in such capacities. To make clear what I mean, may I call attention, for instance, to the fact that one who wishes to become the pilot of an airplane must be first examined thoroughly, physically and otherwise, to determine whether or not he may become a trained and efficient pilot. When it is learned that he does possess the qualifications, he must take thorough and intensive training with various types of machines, especially with those which he hopes to manipulate. The same principle applies in the spiritual realm. The Lord, through the Apostle Paul, gave instructions that responsible positions in the kingdom of God should not be entrusted to novices. Men must first prove themselves capable and trustworthy before they are placed in positions of authority and responsibility.
The late W. E. Blackstone is a fine illustration of this principle. When he was a man in the prime of life he exclaimed, "Oh that God would give me a million dollars! I would use every penny for the evangelization of the world!" The Lord knew that he was, by training and experience, competent to administer such enormous funds. He also knew that this man could be entrusted with such wealth. He therefore providentially placed in his hands five million dollars for evangelization purposes. Mr. Blackstone was faithful as a trustee of this fund and myriads of souls will be in glory because this man prayed, as Jabez did, "Enlarge my borders." A person should be satisfied and contented with what God gives him. Hence there should be no grumbling about his condition or lot in life. Let him be faithful in the position or field in which the Lord has placed him. At the same time it is in perfect harmony with the Scriptures for him to aspire to move out into a larger field of service where he can accomplish more good in the Master's cause. But let such a one be certain that the motive is not one of selfish ambition but rather a sincere desire to help his fellowmen and to glorify God.
THE third request in this petition of Jabez's is, "that thy hand might be with me." The hand of the Lord here stands for God's presence and power. It is quite evident from this petition that Jabez felt certain of the Lord's granting his request to move into a larger sphere of activity. He therefore realized that he could meet the additional responsibilities only by the presence and aid of the Lord. This principle is so very beautifully expressed in the Lord's words to Joshua:
"There will not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of good courage; for thou shalt cause this people to inherit the land which I sware unto their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest have good success whithersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate thereon day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed: for Jehovah thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest" (Josh. 1:5-9).
Here again I cannot refrain from giving you the beautiful sentiments of Gideon on this point, which are found in the following quotation:
"11 And the angel of Jehovah came, and sat under the oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of Jehovah appeared unto him, and said unto him, Jehovah is with thee, thou mighty man of valor. 13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh, my lord, if Jehovah is with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where are all his wondrous works which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not Jehovah bring us up from Egypt? but now Jehovah hath cast us off, and delivered us into the hand of Midian. 14 And Jehovah looked upon him and said, Go in this thy might, and save Israel from the hand of Midian: have not I sent thee? 15 And he said unto him, Oh, Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house. 16 And Jehovah said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. 17 And he said unto him, If now I have found favor in thy sight, then show me a sign that it is thou that talkest with me. 18 Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come Unto thee, and bring forth my present, and lay it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again (Judges 6:11-18).
THE last request in this petition was, "... and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it be not to my sorrow!" God alone can keep one from evil. No doubt in this connection there will come to the mind of almost everyone of my readers the sentence in the prayer which our Lord taught His disciples which reads: "And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." The devil is too tricky for man and will outwit him every time if he attempts to face him in his own strength. It is of the utmost importance that we pray for the Lord to keep us from all evil. My friends, let us, in the spirit of Jabez, pray daily for the Lord's special blessings and guidance in all things.
One Year is Gone
"O Thou, who hast at thy command
The hearts of all men in thy hand,
Our wayward, erring hearts incline
To have no other will but thine.
"Our wishes, our desires, control;
Mold every purpose of the soul;
O'er all may we victorious prove
That stands between us and thy love.
"Thrice blest will all our blessings be,
When we can look through them to thee
When each glad heart its tribute pays
Of love, and gratitude, and praise.
"And while we to thy glory live,
May we to thee all glory give,
Until the final summons come,
That calls thy willing servants home."
THE YEAR is gone, beyond recall,
With all its hopes and fears,
With all its bright and gladdening smiles,
With all its mourners' tears;
Thy thankful people praise thee, Lord
For countless gifts received;
And pray for grace to keep the faith
Which saints of old believed.
To thee we come, O gracious Lord,
The newborn year to bless;
Defend our land from pestilence;
Give peace and plenteousness;
Forgive this nation's many sins;
The growth of vice restrain;
And help us all with sin to strive,
And crowns of life to gain.
From evil deeds that stain the past
We now desire to flee;
And pray that future years may all
Be spent, good Lord, for thee.
O Father, let thy watchful eye
Still look on us in love,
That we may praise thee, year by year,
With angel hosts above.
From the Latin. Tr. by F. Potts
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