How would we want other people to think of you? Wouldn’t you want them to think the best?
For some people it becomes an obsession: wondering what other people think of them. It is a source of anxiety and shame. Most of the time the truth of the matter is: they don’t spend much time thinking about us at all. And, how much does it matter anyway? Should it?
That can be a disturbing line of thought. Many people I know were raised in a hellfire and brimstone religion, where the angry judgement of God was a prominent theme. Human sinfulness & depravity was held up as the basic fact of human nature. We are sinners. And, God is holy. God is offended and angry over our sin. God must condemn us. It is only right.
And, this message, resonates with something deep inside us. We know we are not the people we should be. We are often ashamed of ourselves. And, God must know of flaws and errors that we don’t. We are quick to condemn ourselves. Why wouldn’t God condemn us?
In fact, it is hard for us to imagine that God would think more highly of us than we think of ourselves. Isn’t it?
That is why the message of God’s love is always so hard to believe. If we are sometimes tempted to worry about what other people think of us — how much more worrisome the thought of what God might think of us. (more…)
There was a time when I thought it was selfish and improper to pray for a blessing on myself. I should pray for others. I should put others first. God would bless as it was deemed appropriate.
I can thank Bruce Wilkerson’s book The Prayer of Jabez for changing my mind about that. Not that I’ve read the (little) book. I never did. I didn’t need to. It was once quite popular — a Christian fad. I used to hear about the book continually. People would quote from it, and summarize it, and refer to it. Other people denounced the book and it’s sudden popularity.
I got curious. So, I looked up the actual prayer of Jabez in the Bible. It’s in 1 Chronicles.
“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.” (1 Chronicles 4:9, 10 NIV.)
All right. This may not be the most exemplary prayer in the Bible, but it’s not bad. And, it really is an example of something that was missing in my prayers: both the prayer for God’s blessing and the expectation of God’s blessing. I decided that the whole Prayer of Jabez phenomenon of the time was (on balance) a good thing — and that I needed to make the prayer for and the expectation of God’s blessing a part of my own prayer life. (more…)