Summary: In part 4, we see how God gives us help to not harm others.
First Baptist Church
June 16, 2002
Out of the four sermons on the prayer of Jabez, I must admit this has been the most difficult to write. The reason is actually kind of strange. I looked at the NIV, RSV, NKJV, NLT, and the NASB. Unfortunately they didn’t all agree with each other and what was worse, it seemed that the meaning was changing. When you look at your sermon notes, I have the NIV and NKJV listed. You can see how they appear to have different meanings.
NIV = "Keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain."
NKJV= "Keep me from evil that I might not cause pain."
At first glance the difference is that in the NKJV Jabez says ‘he doesn’t want to cause pain to others.’ While in the NIV Jabez seems to say he doesn’t want any personal pain.
In the end, I really don’t see a huge difference after reading the Hebrew. You see, I believe that Jabez didn’t want to cause pain to others, because in bringing pain into another’s life, it would also cause him pain. And isn’t that true in life, whenever we hurt someone we care about, we end up feeling a good deal of pain. Jabez had experienced enough pain in his life and now he wants to be rid of causing pain and experiencing pain. I don’t think any of us would disagree with that being an appropriate prayer. None of us want to experience any more pain than we consider necessary and we don’t want to inflict pain upon others.
So, as we look at this final aspect of the prayer of Jabez, let’s look at the deep meaning and how it applies to our lives today.
When Jabez prays to be free "from pain," he is acknowledging that sin always brings grief. We cannot sin and win. Jabez had a healthy awareness of the evil lurking in his own heart and of the external temptations that were ready to pounce on him as soon as he let his guard down. Genesis 4:7 paints a vivid picture of what each of us face on a daily basis. God told Cain, "if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
One way we can master sin is by asking God to take evil away. This is exactly what Jesus taught His followers to do in Matthew 6:13: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." When God answered the first three requests of Jabez, satan got angry. When we’re blessed so that we expand our ministry and trust the open hand of God, we begin to invade satan’s turf. Since satan doesn’t want us serving, he begins to send temptations our way.
I’m sure most of you have heard about the Fox TV show called, "Temptation Island." It’s one of those reality television programs. It is based on 4 couples arriving on an island and being separated from one another for two weeks. During these 14 days, they have no contact with one another but will be tempted and seduced by scantily clad singles who are simply looking to break up these relationships – all for the sake of ratings.
I can’t imagine why these couples would agree to test the strength of their relationships by throwing themselves on an island filled with temptation. It’s dangerous and wrong. I hope none of you watch this show.
While we might get upset at a show like this, my guess is that some of us put ourselves in situations that tempt and tantalize. Instead of running from sin as 1 Corinthians 6:18 urges us to do, if the truth were known, many of us go to Temptation Island all the time.
You see, it is one thing to pray to God to help you resist temptation, but when you keep walking toward the door of temptation, you really aren’t wanting God’s help. Instead, God tells us to run. That’s right, some might think that’s cowardly. But I would rather be known as a coward than to give in to satan.
Look at some of the scriptures, Paul wrote, in 2 Timothy 2:22, he told Timothy to "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
When those evil desires come your way, move out of the way. If a man of God like Timothy needed that kind of counsel, I think it’s safe to say we all need it. Cowardly? I don’t think so. I would call it smart. Flee. Turn your back on those desires that will ultimately cause pain and run. Avoid situations that put you at risk.