Last week I went to a conference, a women’s conference on Esther and being highly favored. I’m not going to lie; this was a tough one for me. I am constantly battling comparisons in my mind; working hard to end my need to compare myself to others. So, when I hear a pastor state that some people are highly favored by God and others are not, it is like my greatest fear had been confirmed:
I am no one in the kingdom of God. God does not love me as much as He does “so and so”.
Part of me wanted to discount everything this man was saying. After all, it went against everything God had been working on in me. But no matter how I tried to skirt around it, I couldn’t. Yes, it is a harsh statement, but sometimes what God has to say is harsh. Christianity is not all sunshine and rainbows. We know this…or at least we should.
So, this pastor got me thinking:
“What does it really mean to be highly favored?”
Once again, another topic, that is not clear-cut. Most people seem to think that being highly favored means being blessed with a great life, lots of money, lots of things, prominent position, etc. But, I believe, that is far from the case.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary the term “favor” can mean the following:
An attitude of approval or liking;
An act of kindness beyond what is due or usual (much like our salvation);
A preferential treatment or partiality (where the term “favorite” derives?);
A resemblance in appearance;
A small gift;
To encourage, aid, or support;
To ease, save, or spare;
To approve or accept.
So, I will ask the question on everybody’s minds……
Does God play favorites?
Yes and No! Good. I like cut and dry answers! Lol. (This may show you why me and the law did not work out-I hate the gray!)
My friends displays a proud bumper sticker on her car that reads “God loves everybody, but I am His favorite!’ She is a very blessed woman, so sometimes I am inclined to believe her.
No, in all seriousness, God does indeed show favor, but that doesn’t mean He has favorites in the sense He likes or loves one child more than another. No, our favor is not even for our benefit but rather for the benefit of God’s Kingdom.
It is my belief that there are different “forms” of favor. Sometimes, it comes in special approval, attention, kindness, gifts, encouragement. Sometimes, God supernaturally eases sufferings, saves us from dangerous situations or persons, spares us from consequences, or destroys our enemies. Other times favor comes in the form of protection or special help in order for us to accomplish something God wants us to do. Much like what happened with Esther.
Esther was highly favored. (At least for a time.)
The book of Esther is about a young Jewish girl named Hadassah, an orphan who was forced to compete for the affection of the king. Her Jewish heritage made her an unlikely contestant for such a “beauty pageant”, but God showed her favor and she was crowned queen of Persia and renamed Esther.
Once again, Esther was chosen because she was highly favored. She was highly favored by the king’s men, who gave her special treatment, then by the king himself when he chose her for his bride, but, more importantly, she was highly favored by God, whose favor took her from orphan to queen (He was the reason by other’s favor as well).
The purpose of Esther’s favor was not so that she could enjoy all the blessings of a queen, but rather to save the Jews from being killed off. God needed her in the position of queen to accomplish his purpose. Her favor was not for her enjoyment, but rather a tool needed to carry out her assignment.
Esther 4:14 (NKJ): For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
In this passage, Morecai (Esther’s uncle/guardian) was encouraging her to speak up and follow through on their plan for her to approach the king and demand justice for the Jews and stop the decree that allowed them to be killed.
Once again, Esther was favored “for such a time a this,” meaning God made her for this moment in time. God’s favor was all for this moment. We all have a “for such a time as this” moment. But the question I have for you is:
“Will you remain silent or step into your calling?”
If you are anything like me, you may be asking, why did he pick Esther? What did she do that was so great? Out of all the women, why did God favor her?
Truth be told, I don’t think anyone knows for sure. It is my guess it was because she was a woman of strong faith and God could trust her with the assignment.
Some say favor cannot be earned; it is just there or it isn’t. If you had asked me this yesterday I would have agreed. My eyes have since been opened.
I found it very interesting that when I looked up every scripture listed in my concordance under favor a pattern emerged. I begin to see that there are indeed ways to earn favor.
- Pray to God (Job 33:26)
- Live righteous/obedient/upright lives (Proverbs 3:1-4) (Proverb 14:9)(Psalm 5:12)
- Seek God (Proverbs 8:35)
- Seek goodness(Proverbs 11:27; 12:2)
[I confirmed my theory with many other sources, but Learn the Bible was the most helpful.]
God will indeed show favor on anyone he chooses, but if you look at the people he showed favor on in the Bible (with the exceptions of the Israelite -and, yes, it is a big exception) the majority of the people did the aforementioned.
Mary, Mother of Jesus, was another “highly favored” woman.
Luke 1:28(KJV): 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Was she special? Yes. She had a special calling. Why her? I believe it was because she was a woman who desired to do God’s will, was willing to pay the cost, and had faith God would do what he promised to do. There is no doubt in my mind that Mary was a woman of prayer, that she strived to live an obedient life under God, that she sought God and goodness. All of these things brought her favor, but did that mean she had an easy life.
No way! Look at everything that women went through. Right after the angel told Mary she was highly favored, he told her that even though she was a virgin, she was to conceive a child, God’s child. Don’t be fooled; she knew what this meant. She knew the fallout that was to come. She knew her life was about to get tough, real tough. She was right, but she was able to endure because God was with her and she had a job to do.
Yes, the favor certainly helped, made it all possible, but once again, it did not make it easy.
Look at Paul. He was a favored man, but look at all his hardships. He was chased out of many towns, cursed, hated by many (and I mean many), imprisoned (on more than once occasion), and eventually martyred for his faith.
Highly favored does not equate to easy. No, for me, the best translation would be “protected”
Psalm 5:12 (NKJ): For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.
One last thing. if you remember , the earlier “favor” definitions listed “to resemble.” Well, if you pray, live obediently, seek God and goodness, who would you be resembling? Jesus!
Until next time,