The Bigger Picture of Favor seen in Scripture
In December I preached a message on Luke 1. The direction I anticipated taking with this passage completely changed as I began to write. I began to see a truth within this chapter that I believe is vital for us to understand, as we prepare for the return of Jesus. We are in a season where the body of Christ needs to recognize, and walk in the favor of God.
Did you know that walking in His favor is an important component for you to accomplish the tasks He has placed on your life and for the call to become His image bearer? The word for favor in the New Testament, ‘charis,’ is the same word for grace. As you study favor in the Bible you will find that humility is a posture that invites favor. Recognizing our need is an essential component to receiving favor. When we walk in pride and self-sufficiently we will walk through our day completely unaware of our need for the favor or grace of God. We won’t even be looking for it. Today is a day to humble ourselves, and call upon His favor. What comes to mind when you think of favor?
We often think of it in terms of receiving unusual acceptance and receptivity from others, or having open doors that no man can shut, or receiving blessings in various forms. It could be having the ear of a leader, like Esther who had the ear of the King, able to bring influence upon him, because she was given favor.
These things ARE the favor of God, but it’s not the whole picture.
We often have this idea that favor is reserved for the ‘super saints,’ leaving us doubting that our lives have any favor at all. I have not met enough people who live in the knowledge that they have the favor of God on their lives. We may be quick to point it out in others when we hear their stories of God’s obvious hand at work.
But I think we often miss it.
Put yourself in the story of Mary, one highly favored. Imagine if we were apart of that small town of Nazareth. Mary, your neighbor, would have been seen as an adulterer in that day. She would have had an assault upon her reputation and integrity. The limited understanding of man would have tried to destroy her with false accusations that would spread like small town gossip. Imagine sitting in a Bible study discussing the subject of favor. I don’t know if anyone in that season, where Joseph planned to divorce her would have said, “Mary has the favor of God!” We would have missed it. We would have been pointing out everyone, but her.
The favor of God does not always look like how we may imagine it to look. Let’s look at the bigger picture of favor that could help you and I begin to see that maybe the favor of God is for us too, and not just hero’s of the faith.
We would not consider favor looking like a young girl named Mary, having her reputation questioned, while becoming the object of small town gossip.
We would not think that Zechariah and Elizabeth, during those years with the stigma of barrenness and unanswered prayers, would be described as recipients of favor, through their son John.
Noah was said to have had favor, and when he warned the world of the coming judgment, no one apart from his family responded in faith. For 120 years that it took to build that ark, I am sure he received his fair share of mocking.
Esther was given favor, but knew life as an orphan.
Joseph was given favor, but he was also rejected, sold, and sat in a prison cell.
Moses had favor, but he was stuck in a dessert with a stiff-necked people, and never got to enter the promise land.
David was given favor, but he spent time running for his life.
Job was given favor but he lost everything.
The disciples had been given favor, yet many died as martyrs.
Jesus was given favor, but was hung on a cross.
Favor does not remove the suffering or difficulties of life. Sometimes we hear favor described as though the one with favor never has any obstacles to overcome. This is just not true, and we see it all throughout scripture.
Don’t come under the false belief that you do not have favor, if things in your life do not look so good at the moment.
My husband just posted an article on Facebook about Elizabeth Elliot. I will never forget hearing her speak in one of my classes in Bible school many years ago. She was a woman with favor, yet she was familiar with suffering. This quote by the writer Tony Reinke, stood out to me. “Elizabeth Elliot’s life reminds us ministry is best done in the shadow of suffering, not in the absence.”
Psalm 84 says He bestows favor and honor upon those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 5 tells us that He blesses the righteous one and surrounds them with favor like a shield.
Proverbs 8 says, “for whoever finds Me, finds life and obtains favor from the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 9 says, God is able to make all grace (or favor) abound to you.
Proverbs 3 says to never let love and faithfulness leave you, so that you will find favor.
Our good works will not bring about favor. His favor or grace in our lives is a gift from God. The Lord said to Moses, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion."
God's favor or grace is for a purpose. These Bible characters I just mentioned, were not given favor for the purpose of pointing to some sort of self-greatness. Paul warns us in Romans 12 in reference to the grace bestowed upon us, to not think of our selves more highly then we should. God chooses when and to whom He will give His grace. The favor or grace we are given matches the role we are to play in the Kingdom of God.
Before each of these men and women was a need, before them was a plan of God. He chose to invite them into His plan. Yet everyone, God included, knew they were not capable of carrying out His plan apart from His favor and grace. So He released His favor upon their lives so that the Kingdom of God could be seen and realized on earth through them.
Favor is His kindness to assist us and help us to do things we could never do apart from Him. It is His grace upon us, to equip us to accomplish things He has set before us. The Lord wants to bestow favor upon His people, because He wants His Kingdom to come to earth.
Walking in the knowledge of His favor will enable you to risk. It will enable you to walk in faith, to act upon ideas way beyond yourself for the sake of the Kingdom. It was the knowledge of God’s favor that gave Esther the courage to risk her life before the presence of the King, in order to save her people. To believe you have his favor will enable you to step into the grand story of Christ’s redemption for the world, carrying out your part.
Job declared right in the midst of his suffering that he had the favor of God. He did not allow the presence of loss, sickness or pain to question God’s love or favor upon him. He said in Job 10, “You have granted me life and loving kindness (or favor); And Your care has preserved my spirit.”
Knowing His kindness towards you will enable you to walk out your journey. You will be able to face the obstacles of life because you will have the knowledge that He is with you and is giving you the grace to walk through any difficulty. He is giving you His kindness to help you do things you could never do on your own.
When I began to ponder the greater reality of God’s favor I was overcome with this sense of how richly blessed with His favor I have been. When I began to see it from the standpoint of His grace to help me do what I can not do for myself, I saw not only the mountain top experiences having His favor, but I also saw the difficult valley experiences having His favor as well. I began to see His favor and grace in times where I could forgive the unforgiveable. His favor has given me the ability to look upon those who have betrayed me with love instead of hatred. He has kept me from making terrible mistakes in the face of false accusation. He has sustained my spirit through many trials.
For Zechariah and Elizabeth favor blessed them with a son after many years of barrenness that would prepare the way for the Messiah. Favor also gave them the ability to continue to serve and worship God in the midst of loss or doubt. Favor gave Zechariah the grace to pray for a child, instead of following the belief that barrenness was acceptable grounds for divorce.
For Mary favor gave her the opportunity to be mother of Jesus. Favor also gave her the ability to endure the pain of her soul being pierced, as with a sword, when her son gave His life for the salvation of the world.
For Noah favor saved his life and the life of his family. Favor also gave him the ability to build something way bigger than himself, in faith, for the sake of the God’s plan, even if he was mocked for his belief. It gave him the strength to be obedient, standing unshaken upon the knowledge that He heard God.
For Joseph favor caused all he did to prosper. Favor also gave him the ability to forgive his brothers who sold him into slavery. This grace bestowed upon him gave him to ability to walk in his leadership gifting, even while in captivity.
For Moses favor caught the eye of Pharaoh’s daughter who rescued his life. This favor gave him the ability to bring God’s people out from under Pharaoh’s control. Favor also gave him the ability to share in the sufferings, the disgrace, and oppression of God’s people, instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures that he could have chosen in Egypt.
For David favor allowed him to slay Goliath. Favor kept him on the journey to becoming King. Favor also gave him the ability to NOT slay his enemy when he had the chance.
For Job favor gave him back double of all he lost. Favor also gave him the ability to remain in the knowledge of God’s love, instead of agreeing with his wife to curse God and die.
For the Apostles favor gave them friendship and close communion with Jesus. It gave them open doors to spread the gospel. Favor also gave them the ability to be martyred with the name of Jesus still on their lips.
Be blessed today, favored child of God! Walk in the humble knowledge of His favor, and we will see in greater measure the Kingdom of God coming to earth.