A few weeks ago, I was struck by these words in Prayer: Forty Days of Practice by Justin Mcroberts and Scott Erickson.
As a Christian, I have been taught that I would likely be unpopular and may even be persecuted or bullied; I had never thought much about the word ‘favour’. On the other hand, I have heard many sermons cautioning me not to seek popularity but to aim only to please God. The general conclusion seems to be that Christians are to rail against the world and should even aspire to be disliked. Certain Christians appear to hold the belief that being unpopular is a mark of purity and distinctiveness. I fear that those outside the church perceive us as simply obnoxious.
The more I have thought about ‘favour’, the more I have noticed it in the bible. The bible describes countless characters as favoured by both God and people. In these instances, the Kingdom of God expands because these people are favoured.
Noah found favour in God’s eyes and rescued humankind – Gen 6:8
Joseph found favour in Potiphar’s sight, and the entire household was blessed – Gen 39
The Hebrews found favour with the Egyptians so they did not leave emptyhanded at the time of the Exodus – Ex 3:21
Moses repeatedly found favour in God’s sight – Exodus & Numbers
Ruth found favour in Boaz’s eyes – Ruth 2
Young Samuel grows in favour with God and man; this is perhaps where the prayer above derives from – 1 Sam 2:26
David was able to bless Saul because (at first) he found favour in his sight – 1 Sam 16:22
Nehemiah sought and won favour in King Artaxerxes eyes so that he could rebuild Jerusalem – Nehemiah 2
Daniel was highly favoured, and so too was Mary, Jesus’ mother – Daniel and Luke 1
Esther won favour in everyone’s eyes and was able to help save her entire people group – Esther.
and this biblical character got it wrong:
King Saul tried to perform sacrificial rites in an attempt to earn favour – 1 Sam 13:12
Why do Christians need favour from people?
Favour is required when we’re thrown together with people we wouldn’t ordinarily choose to live and work with. Or, more importantly, they wouldn’t choose to live and work with us. We need their favour if we hope to speak the gospel to them.
Once we have found favour, we’ll find that it is a shield (Psalm 5:12), gives us life (Psalm 30:5), refreshes us (Prov 16:15) and is better than silver and gold (Prov 22:1). These are incredible promises.
How to find favour?
The instructions seem pretty straightforward:
We are to be humble (Prov 3:3)
Keep God’s commands (Prov 3:4)
Employ good sense (Prov 13:15)
Seek to be blameless and allow God to bestow it upon us (Psalm 84:11)
Wisely rebuke others rather than flatter them (Prov 28:23)
Once we have earned someone’s favour, perhaps we can use David’s words: ‘If I have found favour in your eyes … ?’. Can we follow this up with an introduction to the gospel? The first Christians did this, and the Lord added to their number (Acts 2:47).
In Isaiah 61, there is a stunning description of the year of the Lord’s favour. The blind will see, the oppressed will be set free, and the brokenhearted will be restored. I want to be part of that.
With whom do you need to find favour today?
DislocatedChristians exists to create and support a community of like-minded people. Our prayer is that you’ll find some echoes of your dilemmas with church and culture in these pieces, and it will encourage you to know others have the same struggles. Please like, comment on or share our articles if you’ve found them helpful. We’d be immensely grateful if you could follow us, click towards the bottom of the page.
Just as we are each a work in progress, so too is DislocatedChristians. Sometimes we’ll get things wrong, and we hope that you’ll forgive us and continue to stick around when that happens.
My old school prayer quoted these words used to describe Jesus. ‘grant that as we grow in years we may grow in wisdom and in favour with God and man. `