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"God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what He has done, collecting a following for Him" (1 Corinthians 1:17)

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Making Honor Roll

Scripture to reflect upon for Wisdom Wednesday: 1 Chronicles 4:9
“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.”

The world’s idea of “favoritism” is unfair and unjust. God’s idea of favor is “honor.”

I hate favoritism. I have struggled with the idea of favoritism my whole life. As a young girl in Catholic elementary school, there was one girl who was everyone’s favorite and I was the outcast. When my father had his third daughter, she was his favorite and he went out of his way to make it obvious that no one could ever take her place.

I once thought I was a favorite. Growing up I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and I considered myself to be my grandfather’s favorite. He spent a lot of time with me, went out of his way to make me milkshakes after a long day of swimming, or snuck ice cream cones to me before bed. As a young, single mom, I struggled a lot financially and he always seemed to help me in my time of need. This caused a lot of resentment in my family, particularly with both of my uncles. As I got older, they went out of their way to skew my grandfather’s affection for me by bad mouthing me, ridiculing me and denouncing any deserved or undeserved extra attention. I believed nothing could shake his love for me…but I was wrong. I was ousted of my inheritance and denied ownership of the home my grandfather promised me. Again, I was an outcast in my own family.

Recently this hot topic resurfaced and reared its ugly head again. I found myself now questioning God’s favoritism. I felt God favored others over me, and I was infuriated over it. I felt God wasn’t treating me any different than my own father or grandfather. They both gave me just enough to think I was loved, and then snatched away any and all hope that their love was genuine. I saw God no different as I faced a difficult road ahead with no hope in sight. I was painfully aware that others were incredibly blessed and we were barely getting by.

I didn’t want to give up, but I was aching to call it quits. I was trying to find reasons to keep believing. One day I reached for a book I had bought months ago, You Were Born for This, written by Bruce Wilkinson, the author of, The Prayer of Jabez, and I immediately began to feel God’s joy again. But this nagging feeling of not being favored wouldn’t subside. As the author began to explain bits and pieces about Jabez, I wished I had the book because it sounded like something that would get me out of my funk.

The very next day Jared walked up to me and handed me a small, compact book: The Prayer of Jabez! I was surprised and asked him where he got it. “I went into the attic to look for something and this book was literally on the floor right at the door, almost as if it was placed there just for you.” Favor. We have no idea how we got this book. I know I didn’t buy it, and Jared doesn’t remember how he would have gotten it, either. But there it was. Right on time. Why was this book so important to me?

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers… What does that even mean? Honorable.

1 Samuel 2:30 says, “Those who honor me (God), I will honor.” While Psalm 84:11 tells us, “The Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

As I gobbled every page of The Prayer of Jabez, the first sentence of one of the last chapter’s asked, “Do you think God has favorites?” My heart began to pound. This was the reason I was meant to read this book. I was afraid to read further but ventured ahead:

“[Jabez’s] experience taught him that equal access to God’s favor does not add up to equal reward…Simply put, God favors those who ask. He holds nothing from those who want and earnestly long for what He wants…Honor nearly always means leaving mediocre expectations and comfortable assumptions behind.” (Wilkinson, pg. 76-77)

Seeking God’s will—God’s best, what He wants—is honoring God. God’s character, Wilkinson claims, is to bless us immensely. He longs to shower us with His favor. So why, then, doesn’t He always do it?

Are we seeking God’s best, or our idea of what we think is best for us? Worse yet, are we dishonoring God in any way? “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them” (Numbers 20:12). God told Moses to speak to the rock, but instead Moses rebuked the Israelites. Want to know what’s so fascinating about this story? Although Moses disobeyed God’s command, God still provided gushing water from the rock for everyone to drink. God will keep His promise, but when we publically dishonor Him, the promise then has consequences. When we disobey God and do what we think is right or just, we dishonor Him. The Israelites had every right to be rebuked, but that’s not what God wanted to Moses to do. Moses refused to do what God wanted.

I soon realized I had been asking God to bless me with things I wanted, not what He wanted. Once I shifted gears and simply asked God to “bless me indeed” (1 Chronicles 4:10) with what He wanted for me, I began to see miracles happening all around me. It was raining blessings! I had been standing in God’s way. I wasn’t honoring Him, so He couldn’t honor me.

NOTE TO SELF: When you honor God, He will honor you. Therefore, God’s favor is just and fair. Jabez’s simple prayer was answered because he was more honorable than his brothers.

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