Favour, what is it, and with whom do you have it?
Have you ever asked yourself what it means to have favour with God, or with man? What might it look like if you had it?
We know that Jesus had it, see Luke 2:52.
‘Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man.’
How could Jesus grow in favour with God?
As a child he had to learn and mature, same as any child does. He did this without disobedience, attitude problems, inadequacy in anything appropriate to his age, or failure, but he still had to increase in his level of knowledge and understanding. He had to show his obedience and submission in his family and be teachable in his work and studies.
As he grew in all these areas and more besides, of course his Father would have pleasure in him.
So, he grows in tangible favour with God.
Again we see relationship with God, even within the Godhead, is the genuine article, no pretence at all. Real love and real communication.
It must be different for Jesus to have grown in favour with man. How did it happen?
The people around Jesus didn’t know him through and through, so as they came to know him better they gave him more favour, that’s how it works isn’t it?
Let’s have a look.
If it was simply a case of knowing the truth about Jesus, then the devil and his followers would not be vehemently opposed to him as they are. It is said the demons believe there is one God and they tremble because of it, James 2:19, simply knowing what is true even to the point of it giving you the heebie jeebies isn’t the same as trusting and investing your life in it.
It isn’t just knowledge that brings favour. Not even accurate knowledge of the truth about God.
Jesus didn’t have favour with all people, generally the religious establishment loathed him and the poor people loved him.
Jesus had favour with particular people because God the Father was drawing them to him, giving them hearts and minds to hear and respond, which they then chose to do.
Favour has to come from God granting it.
It is he who grants us favour with particular people or groups.
How can you know where you have favour?
It is where you have those who listen to you and take notice of what you say, to the level of there being real change in them.
You can have ‘fans’, a following of sorts, but unless you are seeing willingness to change or some other form of desirable response in them, then the chances are you simply have some friendly people round you, you don’t necessarily have favour with those who only appear to follow you.
God gives us a sphere of influence within which we should be able to see we have his favour.
Favour brings an ease, I don’t mean our work isn’t challenging, but there is an ease to it, we might, as Spurgeon used to say, get tired in the work, but not tired of it.
If you have favour you will probably see an unusual level of fruitfulness.
Work others may think is unpleasant or impossible, we can, with the favour of God on us, do with real pleasure and see rich fruit. I was told years ago that the work I was involved in was the worst job in the church, but I experienced it as the best! We were both convinced we were right, I guess we were, for her the job would have been a nightmare, and to be fair, at times previously, I would have thought it would be for me too, but once God puts his hand on you for a task, things start to change. Not least your own thinking.
What about favour with God?
Do we work to earn his favour?
No, we work because he loves us, and our hearts long to show love in return, but do our efforts and happy obedience make a difference? Yes, they do.
Does his favour mean we experience everything being simple?
No, of course not, but it does make a difference when we know his smile is on us.
It gives us strength to continue, when if left to our own devices we might be tempted to run for the hills.
It gives joy that can come from nowhere else: ‘You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’
It brings a bubbling up of excitement as we see him unfolding his plan in and through us.
We get to know his pleasure…what a privilege!