For years now we’ve read and heard quoted the scripture found in 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.”
It has been dubbed The Prayer of Jabez, and I have always heard teachings on this scripture in relation to blessings in the monetary sense. Years ago I typed it in a pretty font, printed it on pretty paper, framed it and placed it on my mantle as if it’s very presence in my home would rain down pennies from heaven and result in good behavior. It’s probably still sitting there today; I can’t remember. I have in the past faithfully prayed and declared this prayer over my family and home. After all, it’s a great prayer! I want to be blessed in every area of my life. I want to not do evil or cause pain. I want God to grant me what I have requested. And don’t we all?
But today has brought to my heart an entirely new and different view of that verse. I watched a moving video about a couple, with kids already grown, who adopted twin baby girls. (You can see it here – http://player.vimeo.com/video/83605785) I saw the excitement and pure love on the faces of this once-again new mom and dad and on the faces of their grown children at the sight of these little ones. It was beautiful, and yet I thought, Man, I wouldn’t want to start all over again! Bottles, diapers, sleepless nights….. ugh. Now that’s love!
Immediately Jabez and his prayer interrupted my moanings. This thought, this new prayer, flooded my mind and heart – God, enlarge the TERRITORY OF MY HEART! Expand the BORDERS OF MY SOUL that I may love as You love. Increase the CAPACITY OF MY HEART to love others NO MATTER WHAT ACTION THAT LOVE MAY REQUIRE OF ME!
And so He shall. If, that is, I am truly willing to love. Because to love like this – to love as God loves – requires death. His love for us required the death of His one and only Son, and His love through us requires our death. If we are to truly love as He loves, our self and our selfishness must die. Pure, true, selfless love cannot coexist with the natural me. I cannot live in myself and live in love unless I let His all-consuming fire consume me.
I want to be love. I want to be the love that is action, the verb even more than the noun. I want to take love further than the ooey gooey, the wishy washy, the warm and fuzzy. I want the deepest recesses of my heart to rise up in courage and act in love.
Jesus talks about our hearts in Luke 6:43-45, “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” (By the way, this is exactly why Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts!)
I love that Jesus used the word “treasury” because it gives my mind a picture. A treasury is a place where valuables are received, kept, managed and disbursed; a place where great treasure is stored. Imagine a lovely building. Paint it red in your mind if you wish and decorate it however you like; that’s of no consequence. The important thing is what lies inside, what fills this precious storehouse. If the treasury of your heart is not filled with love, there is nothing of value to impart to others. Even the best among us, from our own resources, cannot truly love our neighbor as ourselves the way Christ commanded (Mark 12:31) or esteem others higher as Paul instructed (Philippians 2:3). This kind of love takes much courage, strength, sacrifice, and obedience. It is not for the weak!
But take heart, my friend, Jesus has us covered! He assures us in John 16:33 that, despite the trials and sorrows of this world that try to pour into our treasury that which is not fit to give, He has overcome! It is only by His power at work within us, enabling us, that we are able to love. When we let God live through us, He will accomplish exceedingly more than we could ever ask or even think (Ephesians 3:20). And, boy, do I need Him to do so in me!
I love this quote from Danny Silk (lovingonpurpose.com) – “Courage is being authentic and living the story from your heart daily.”
Love has overcome, and because of this, the story our hearts live can be one of overwhelming love and selfless courage. We can, indeed, love as God loves!
God, grant me the courage to love like this! Let love penetrate my soul, not just on the good days, but every day, whether it feels good or not. Let my actions, my words, and the motivations of my heart show the love that is You. Watch over the coming in and the going out of my heart. Let there be death to self and life to love. Let the inside story of my heart reflect Your heart. Enlarge my heart! God, grant me what I have requested.