By Charles Wages
There is a prayer of a man of Judah, by the name of Jabez recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:10. One phrase in his prayer is of great interest.
“Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast …”
Man seems to have an insatiable desire to expand. It is seen in most of our activities, but not all. It can be shown that the human body is larger now than a few decades ago. Since the introduction of Western food and ways into Japan, the people there are somewhat larger. Manufacturers of seating equipment tell us they must allow more room in stadiums, auditoriums, etc. It could be that we are sitting too much, but no doubt there are other reasons.
Business, especially in the large corporations, seems to have a need to expand or they fold. New frontiers are constantly being sought. A movement out and into space has occupied the efforts of nations for several decades, and there is increased interest in oceanography or the study of the seas. And the almost universal desire for education, the expanding of the mind, is indicative of man’s quest to go beyond his borders.
The greatest and most important area in which we should desire to enlarge is in our life for the Lord. When Jabez prayed “enlarge my coast,” he was not asking selfishly, because it is recorded, “And God granted him that which he requested.” He knew that the people must expand, not only in size but in spiritual stature.
There are several ways that could be mentioned in which one can grow for God. It is written in the Proverbs, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” God’s people must set their sights beyond their own self-contained borders or limitations. This is not covetousness, but concern, because the desire is not for that which doesn’t rightfully belong to us. It is a holy desire to gain that which is totally lost. It is that desire, through the giving of the Word, to “win” the lost, recapture and restore the barren life that has forgotten the Lord.
There should be a desire to “enlarge the heart.” The apostle Paul in writing to the Corinthians said, “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.” Later in verse 13, he said, “be ye also enlarged.” One way the heart can be enlarged is by exercise. This should be godly exercise, that is, using our energies and strength for things of the Lord. Inactivity leads to atrophy, and atrophy to deadness.
Another way the heart can be enlarged is by a fervent (warm) spirit or attitude. In Romans 12: 11, we are admonished to be, “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” This is exemplified in a man named Apollos of whom it is recorded in Acts 18:25, “This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.”
The heart can be enlarged by taking more people and their needs into it. Just after Paul had said to the Corinthians, “our heart is enlarged”, he remarked in 2 Corinthians 7:3, “I speak not this to condemn you, for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.” It is true that a person who is all tied up in himself, makes a mighty small package.
Our hearts will grow larger as we make more and more room for the Lord. It takes a big heart to even consider God, but the more He moves in, the more our lives expand. Self is small and the more selfish we are, the smaller our hearts and lives become. The Lord is warm and loving and brings an increase and growth in the life that cannot be equaled. Peter wrote, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves” (1 Pet. 4:8).
The heart can be affected positively if we are willing to strain or stretch our lives for the Lord. Peter alone uses a word that portrays this. In 1 Peter 1:22, he says, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” The word “fervently” means to stretch or extend and signifies intense strain. We are usually afraid of too much stress and strain, but if it is really used for the Lord, it could have a delightful effect instead of being deleterious or detrimental. Often times our greatest growth is in times of adversity. Sometimes, we even speak of “growing pains.” Athletes often “play through pain.” Christians can grow and “pray through pain.”
The larger a man gets in his own sight, the smaller he is in God’s sight. Conversely, the smaller a man is in his own sight, the larger he is in God’s sight. We should desire to expand or grow larger in order to do more for the Lord, yet, we should keep in mind that it is, “God which worketh in you both to will and do of his own good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
A larger life is desirable in order to do more for the Lord. The Lord’s work is the greatest and most important work of all, and it takes people with big minds and hearts to endure and persevere.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58)