2 The importance of favor
Favor is one of the most important keys in the Kingdom of God, to enable us to fulfill our calling, experience His blessing and to enjoy our relationship with God. The purpose of this study is to help us to understand what favour is and how to experience God’s favour. In the Old Testament, the word favor in the Hebrew language means to receive special kindness or a superior person stooping to show kindness to an inferior person. In the New Testament, the word favour comes from the same word which means grace. In most cases it means kindness or special kindness.
The first mention of the word favour in the New Testament, is when the Angel appeared to Mary and said to her, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.” (Luke 1:30) In other words, God is going to show you special kindness.
Before we proceed, there are two important things we need to know about favor. Firstly,favour comes from God and is expressed through people. Secondly, favour has tangible results. It is not just a presence or a feeling. It is more than just good words, something must happen!
Let’s look at some of these tangible results of favour:
Firstly, favour gives us preferential treatment: We read in Psalm 16:6we read, “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance.” The Passion Bible reads as follows: “I’m overwhelmed by the privileges that come with following you, for you have given me the best!” We have the example of Joseph, we read in Acts 7:9-10, “(God)gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.” Theyactually received gifts because they had favour!
In Psalm 5:12we read, “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.” When we have favor, we receive things that we do not deserve. It seems to be unfair in the sight of others.
Secondly, when we have favor, good things happen to us:There will be evidence that God’s hand is on our lives. We read about Joseph in Genesis 39:2, “The Lordwas with Joseph, and he was a successful man.” When we have favor there will be evidence that God is directing our steps, opening doors for us and providing us with resources. We have the example when God gave the children of Israel favor with the Egyptians. We read in Exodus 3:21, “And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed.”
There will also be the evidence of the miracles, wonderful experiences with God, opportunities and divine appointments. We will meet the right people, who will help us reach our goals and provide the resources that we need. In Proverbs 16:15we read, “In the light of the king’s face is life,And his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.” Therefore, great blessing comes to us when God gives us favor before the right people.
Thirdly, favor gives us approval and acceptance before people. In Acts 2:47, we read about the early church that “had favor with all the people And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” As a result of this favour, souls were added to the church! Often we need the acceptance of people to receive from them, that what we need, and which often seems impossible. It could be a document, or a visa, or a special invitation to go somewhere or do something. We may often see God ‘bend the rules’ in order for us to receive what we need. This happened to Nehemiah, when he requested that the king send him back to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Fourthly, favor will cause people to trust us: We have the example of Joseph. Potiphar trusted him to run his household and Pharaoh trusted him to rule the nation of Egypt. In the book of Esther we read how the king of Persia trusted Esther and Mordecai to write a decree concerning the Jews. When we have favour, people will trust us. It may be a loan we need from a bank, or a business transaction or some responsibility that we receive.
Fifthly, favor may stir up jealousy and envy from those who do not have God’s favor: Again we read in Acts 7:9, “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him.” Because of the favour that Joseph received from his father, his brothers were jealous and sold him as a slave to Egypt. The rulers of Babylon were jealous about the favour that the King had shown to Daniel and persuaded the king to throw him into the lion’s den. This is often the price we have to pay in order to have God’s favor on our lives. Those who do not experience God’s favor will criticize or even persecute those who do have God’s favor. Often pastors of small struggling churches will criticize those who have successful growing churches. Therefore, we must be very careful about what we say about those who have the evidence of God’s favor on their lives. It will be better to bless them and work with them than to oppose them and criticize them.
There are three important truths that we need to know about favour:
First of all, we have favor with God because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.
Through faith in Jesus, we have received God’s grace, which means His unmerited favour. God shows acts of kindness towards us because we belong to Jesus and we are part of God’s family. It is like being a child in a wealthy household. We will have privileges, that others do not have! In Ephesians 1:4we read that “We are accepted in the Beloved.” The word accepted in the Greek can also mean, “highly favored.” We have favor because we are in Christ. For example, we read in Romans 8:31, “If God be for us, who can be against us.”
At the beginning of Jesus ministry He announced, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to proclaim … the acceptable year of the Lord (or the year of God’s favour).”He announced that God was going to show favour to those who believe in Him!
One of the greatest verses on favor is found in Ephesians 2:7, “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindnesstoward us in Christ Jesus.” The Passion Bible puts it this way, “Throughout the coming ages we will be the visible display of the infinite, limitless riches of his grace and kindness, which was showered upon us in Jesus Christ.”This means that for ever and ever, God is going to do good things for us and be kind to us because we are in Christ Jesus.
We call this positional favor. It is because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross and not because of anything we did, or did not do. We read in Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?“
Secondly, we must believe that we have God’s favour:
Everything in the Kingdom of God is received by faith. For example, salvation, heailing, blessings. This also applies to favour. It is important that we act and speak as though we believe we have favour. Favour is often released through the words that we speak.
We read about the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:23-26. “This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you … So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” We notice, that God blessed them because words of blessing and favour were spoken over them. We also need to speak words of favour over our own lives. We read in 1 Peter 3:10, “He who would love life And see good days, Let him [refrain his tongue from evil,and his lips from speaking deceit.”
When we speak good positive words over our lives and the lives of others, we release God’s favour. Furthermore, we must live and act as though we have God’s favour. Just as a son can boldly approach his father to receive something from him, in the same way we can boldly approach our Heavenly Father in prayer and faith, because we have His favor.
Thirdly, our level of favour can be increased:
Every born again Christian has favor because of what Jesus did for them at the cross. However, our experience of His favour can increase. For example we read in the Old Testament about Samuel, “And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.‘ (1 Samuel 2:26) It says of Jesus in Luke 2:52,”And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” We can understand that He increased in favour with men! But it says here that He also increased in favour with God! Jesus, as our example, who lived as a man and increased His favour with God! If this was true about Jesus, then what about us? Although we cannot increase favour that relates to our position in Christ, we can however, increase our level of our experience of God’s favour.
It is obvious that there are those who experience more favour than others. We notice the evidence of God’s hand upon them by the way He gives them special opportunities and uses them them in a unique way. Often, amazing things happen to them that do not happen to others. Therefore, we need to answer the following question: “why does this happen?” I suggest the following:
1. Our favour increases when we are stewards of the favour that God has already given to us. We do not work to obtain favor, but from a position of favor. For example: We bless others and we bring glory and honor to God. We use God’s favor to pray for the sick, tell others about Jesus and encourage one another, etc. When we are good stewards of the favor that we have already received, God will entrust us with more favor.
Furthermore, favour works according to the principle of sowing and reaping. If we give favour to others, we will also receive favour from others. If we use our favour to be a blessing, we will reap the blessings that come from favour.
We have a warning in 2 Chronicles 32:25, “But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.” How did this happen? First of all, Hezekiah was not grateful for all the favour that the Lord had already given him. Secondly he became proud about the favour that God has given to him. He boasted before others that what God had done for him and given to him. Therefore we must always be grateful for God’s favour, and use it to bless others.
2. Favour increases in the atmosphere of humility: We have the story of Mary in Luke 1:30. “Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Why did Mary find favour with God? We find the answer in verse 48, where Mary said, “For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant.”God gave her favour because she was humble. In 1 Peter 5:5 we read that God “gives grace (unmerited favor) to the humble.” Therefore, if we do not experience God’s favor, it may because of pride or because we want to exalt ourselves and impress others!
3. Favor increases through our intimacy with God:The word ‘presence’ in the Hebrew and Greek comes from the word, ‘face.’ God’s face also means His favor. We experience God’s favor when He turns His face towards us. One of the ways to experience God’s favour and increase His favour, is to spend time in God’s presence, snd develop our love and intimacy for Him. Jesus said in Matthew 6:6, “… pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward youopenly.”
It is interesting to note in the book of Exodus, that while God was pouring out His judgment on the Egyptians, the Children of Israel dwelt in the land of Goshen where they experienced God’s favour and protection. The word ‘Goshen’, means to ‘draw near.’ As we draw near to God in intimacy and love, we will experience His favour. We usually show favour to those whom we love, and who show us love. For example, Esther found favor with the king, because the king loved her.
4. Favor is given to those who are willing to obey God in every area of their lives: In Acts 13:32we read of David, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.” We notice, in the lives of many in the Bible that experienced great favour, is that they were obedient and committed to God. We notice this in the lives of Paul, Daniel, Abraham and others. They had a high level of obedience and commitment to God. Favour is therefore experienced when we are in the will of God, and we do that for which He has called us to do.
Finally, the Bible says in Acts 10:34, “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.” In the Passion translation says, “Now I know for certain that God doesn’t show favoritism with people but treats everyone on the same basis.” This means, that God does not randomly show more for to certain people without a reason. Therefore, the only reason why some experience more favour than others, is because they have applied the principles in God’s word to increase their favour. If Jesus needed to grow in fabour, so do we! Favour is an important key to experience God’s blessings and to fulfill our calling. May God Bless you as you make it a high priority to live in God’s favour and to increase your experience of His favour. Amen