|The Favor of God|
The Ends of Blessing
“For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” -Exodus 33:16
The glory of being a Christian and living within the Biblical worldview is that we daily enjoy the assurance of having found favor with God. As basic as this truth is, we must not take it for granted. Nor may we fail to recognize the profound implications it entails.
For many Christians, the favor of God amounts to little more than a sense of unshakable well-being. Through the storms of life, this one thing we know: God accepts us in His beloved Son. Therefore, we know that come what may, God, is working for our good. (Romans ).
Sadly, some Christians use the assurance of God’s favor as a license to sin. When faced with temptation, many believers reason, “Oh well, it doesn’t matter. God loves me as I am, and He will forgive all my sins.”
While there is truth in each of these views, they fail to grasp the significance and responsibility that accompany the favor of God. The favor of God, when viewed in these limited ways, can lead to false assurance in the present, and ultimate disappointment before the judgment throne of God.
Moses’ brief interview with God helps us better understand the meaning of God’s favor, and the extent of His blessing. Four aspects of the favor of God come to light.
KNOWN BY GOD
Moses reflected on this aspect of God’s favor when he recalls how God knew him “by name.” God had called him, set him apart for the deliverance of
TAUGHT BY GOD
Certainly, we would say that God granted this request; it seems as if God granted favor to Moses so that he could lead him more deeply into His favor. Thus, God’s favor is supposed to draw us into a more intimate knowledge of Him and His ways. Those who have truly experienced the favor of God understand that there is more blessing to be gained, and they seek it by learning the ways of God as revealed in His Word.
This is an area where too many contemporary believers seem rather lackadaisical. We are not diligent in searching the Scriptures and working out in our own lives the ways of God—the paths where more of His favor may be found. Yet God clearly intends this to be one of the ends of His blessing. If we neglect regular study of God’s Word, choosing instead to indulge in the things of this world, then we have not understood the purpose of God’s initial favor. By declining to plumb God’s original favor more deeply we may actually be declaring that we have never really tasted the first fruit of divine favor.
ACCOMPANIED BY GOD
The favor of God begins to flourish even more brightly among His people as they gather to worship Him, and reflect on His steadfast faithfulness. But worship must be on God’s terms, not ours. He has told us how to worship Him, and has forbidden us from devising our own means worship—especially those we have imported from the surrounding culture of unbelief. After all, if our worship is merely a pale reflection of contemporary culture, how will it be apparent that God is accompanying us with His favor? And if we decline God’s prescribed means of worship, in favor of those that best suit our tastes, how shall we expect Him to meet with us? If no supernatural power is evident in our ministries or worship, how can we be sure that we’re not just doing “our thing” according to our limitations and interests, rather than seeing the mighty hand of God at work in our midst?
So a third aspect of the favor of God is that we should be a people who clearly display the power, majesty, and mystery of Him to the surrounding culture. Many churches need to recognize that we have some work to do if we want to realize this end of God’s favor.
SET APART BY GOD
And we’re not much different from the Israelites. When considering moral issues or personal decisions, we love to ask, “What would Jesus do?” That’s easy: He would keep the Law of God. He fulfilled all the priestly regulations—the sacrifices that took place in the Tabernacle and
But we remain largely ignorant of, or sometimes indifferent to, this holy Law. How shall we ever advance in the blessings of God if we continue to ignore this sanctifying component of His favor? The short answer is, we won’t. Jesus prayed that God would sanctify His people by His truth, meaning His Word (John ). At that time, the Old Testament (specifically the Law) was the only Word the people of God had. Sanctification unto the Lord means becoming more immersed in His favor. We must clothe ourselves with the good works of the Law, which God ordained before the foundations of the world, because we have been created anew in Christ. (Ephesians 3:8-10). If we would know the favor of God in all its joyous aspects, we must give ourselves to the study of the Law of God, just as Jesus did.
The favor of God thus exists at four levels; the followers of Jesus Christ have the enormous privilege of plumbing the depths of this well of blessings. As we see in Moses’ interview with God, the favor of God cannot be broken into pieces: desire one section of it and you must receive the whole; enter into it at one level, and it will inevitably lead you to all the others. Too many followers of Christ are content to slurp at the drippings of God’s favor, rather than drink from the fire hose. We need to recognize that there is no favor with God unless we have all the favor of God.
T. M. Moore is dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of 20 books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet), and Culture Matters (Brazos). He and his wife and editor, Susie, make their home in Concord, Tenn.