I have been wrestling lately with the idea of “FAVOR.” Why does it seem like some people have more of God’s favor than others? How does God decide where to pour out his favor?
I really do not think I am alone as I have gazed at what others have and wondered why God seemingly poured his favor on them and not me. I am not proud of my sometimes jealous gaze. I also know that when I give way to jealousy, it is because my understanding of God’s favor needs tweaking.
We are told that people like Abel, Noah, Joseph and Samuel had the Lord’s Favor. God had special plans for these people. They are kind of well-known in history. Other’s wrestled with God or begged God for his favor like Jacob and Moses. God had special plans for these people, too. They are kind-of well-known, too. What about you and me? What is our story regarding God’s favor?
When it comes to desiring circumstances in life to change, we all know what it looks like to seek the Lord’s favor – to beg for his favor (like Jacob and Moses). As we wait for his favor to be poured out, we notice those around us who seem to have His favor. We notice the pregnant people, or the ones with the nice-paying jobs or nice homes or the ones that seem happily married. We notice our circumstances.
That is the problem. When we notice our circumstances, we have taken our eyes off the One we so desperately want favor from.
If you google “favor,” the definition that comes up is, “An attitude of approval or liking.”
If a person has a lot of material things, does that mean that God approves of them more or likes them more? Sometimes it feels like this is true, but if we sit for even a moment to consider this thought, our thinking quickly disintegrates. What about the 1/2 of the world’s population that lives on less than $2/day? What about the 1/4 of the world’s population that lives on less than $1/day? If we think favor from God equates to the tangible things we receive, then half of the people on the planet would have to be excluded from receiving God’s favor. And we know that is not the case. This is who God says have his favor:
“These are the ones I look on with favor:
those who are humble and contrite in spirit,
and who tremble at my word.” ~Isaiah 66:2
The ones who have God’s approval are not the one’s who think they deserve it and they are not necessarily the ones with a lot of things. They are the ones who are humble. God pours out his approval on those who are willing to lay down their lives (their dreams, ambitions, and goals) to be used in the manor the Potter sees fit (more on this tomorrow).
So we get his favor by recognizing our position: He is God, I am not. We are low. But when he pours out his favor, he elevates us. He raises us up to be a part of his grand purposes.
I have heard “grace” defined as “unmerited favor.” Grace is the word that the entire christian faith hinges on. Without grace, we are left striving to get right with God. We are left to buy into what all other world religions believe: that we must meet certain requirements to be in good standing with God. With Christianity, the only requirement to be in good standing with God is that you let Jesus stand in your place, accepting your punishment. Whew! That really is good news. Why is it so difficult to accept? …because we want to DO something.
We seek his favor because we want him to look down from on high and see our situation and do something about it. We are not happy with how things are. We picture God as distant and maybe even oblivious to what we are dealing with. We want to shout through a megaphone and do one of those really loud whistles to get his attention. The truth is, God is not high and away, off doing his thing. He is actually quite close and quite muddy. He is down low, meeting people where they are at – which is often not a pleasant place. If we look for a clean-cut looking God up in the clouds, we will never find him. We serve a God that is not afraid to get his hands dirty. Jesus proved it.
Psalm 40:2 says, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
There may not be anything you can DO to change your circumstances, but you can rest (or stand) in the favor of the Lord. His love for you is overwhelmingly great. He approves of you and LIKES you. If you don’t know what that kind of love feels like, do not stop looking to the One who pours it out freely until you have experienced it. God does not withhold his love nor his favor, when we humble ourselves before him and ask. Thank you, Jesus, for making it all possible.