By: Danny Wallace
There has always been much discussion in the church regarding favor with God among Christians. We all know why, don’t we? Because “favor” is synonymous with, “Move me to the front of the line – place me at the top of the pecking order – I want to be first, not last.”
I read an article recently where someone asked a religious scholar, "What is the favor of God, and how can I get it?" The answer was far too long, and too much like fingernails on a chalkboard for me to print it all here. Nevertheless, here is his answer in the first few lines.
“The best definition of favor is ‘demonstrated delight.’ The favor of God can be described as tangible evidence that a person has the approval of the Lord. When we favor someone, we want to be with him, or her. We delight in him.”
Let me point out that since this answer implies that God approves of some over others, desiring to hang out with some, but wouldn’t be caught dead with others, maybe I should begin by saying that this answer is what favor most certainly is not. Let us not forget that by this definition Jesus had no favor at all. He had none of the tangible evidence this man was referring to, not to mention that He suffered much, and died an excruciatingly painful death.
With that having been said, ironically, the complete, absolute, and irrevocable favor of God is demonstrated to man through the sacrifice of Jesus for all of our sins. Not just yours and mine, but for the sins of the whole world – for all who have ever lived, and for all who will ever walk the earth. That is absolute, unequivocal, across the board… favor.
Though many attempt to constrain such greatness as God only showing favor to specific Christians – by the sacrifice of Jesus, no one is excluded. Even if favor worked the way many leaders work tirelessly to convince their ministry followers that it works they would most likely be surprised to discover that by their own definition, we would all be at the back of the favor line.
Thankfully, favor isn’t even close to what ministry followers are manipulated into believing it is. Luke 2:52 declares of Jesus as a boy…
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
Since God does not grow in favor with Himself, by our misleading definition of the word, and since Jesus did not come to seek man’s favor, but rather, to lay down His life for all mankind, it becomes obvious that favor is “blessing.” And since God’s blessing is by the gift of His Grace, and not by our performance, “favor” is as omnipresent, and omnipotent as God, Himself.
Hopefully The Message translation will make it more understandable, and a bit less confusing.
“So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.”
The absolute favor of God is found in the complete sacrifice of Jesus. Favor isn’t ours because of anything we do, but because of “who Jesus is,” and what He has sacrificed for all of mankind. We find favor with God when we step into the forgiveness and covering of the blood of Christ.
A good friend of mine has a growing ministry of love, and Grace. A lady recently gifted him with a generous sum of money and said she was doing so because since she began following and listening to his ministry she had found favor with God. My friend explained to her that God’s favor doesn’t work that way. I’m so glad he did because I’ve witnessed many Christian leaders seize a moment like that to twist scripture in such a way that people continue in this false belief, fearing that to do otherwise is to lose God’s favor. This misconception secures the continuous funneling of their money in that particular ministry’s direction. Nothing could be further from the truth regarding the favor of God.
My friend called me and asked, “I did tell her right, didn’t I?” I assured him that he had. I told him that when we cast our bread upon the water it comes back on EVERY wave, not just a select few.
Therefore, she could have divided that generous sum of money into one hundred dollar bills and passed them out to each prostitute that left a night’s work at the brothel and received the very same blessing. The favor she is experiencing is simply, “Give and it shall be given.”
If a man leaps from the steeple of a Charismatic church, he will receive the same results had he jumped from the roof of the world’s tallest whorehouse. It is called, “The Law of gravity.” You jump – you fall. So it is with favor.
What greater favor could God show to all of mankind than to offer up His Son as payment for ALL of our sins? When we give, it is given to us. When we bless, we are blessed. When we love, we are loved. When we cast our bread on the water, it comes back on every single wave, not on certain ways, to a favored few.
This thing we peddle, as “favor” is nothing more than rebranded, “exclusivism.” It has been around for a long time. No matter how we package it to imply that God favors some over others, it remains a falsehood that existed under the Old Covenant, but has surely been shelved in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.
We have the favor of God in Jesus Christ. It is futile to plot, beg, and scheme for that which was freely given in the ultimate sacrifice of love.