To favor means to give special regard to; to treat with goodwill; to show exceptional kindness to someone. Sometimes, it means to show extra kindness in comparison to the treatment of others; that is, preferential treatment. To a Christian, favor with God is what He bestows upon you or gives you.
Deuteronomy 28:50 warns the Israelites of judgment by a “nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young.” Though it is natural for us to favor babies and the elderly in times of affliction or judgment, this nation will not give such favor.
We know from the Old Testament that Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Job, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, David, Esther and Daniel, to name a few, found special favor with the Lord. In the New Testament, John was Jesus’ best friend. James and Peter were in Jesus’ inner circle. Mary, Stephen and Paul found special favor.
Esther received royal favor above all the other virgins (Esther 2:17). It is from this use of favor that we get the word, favorite. The greatest favors are shown to the favorite.
However, favor is not always used in a comparative way toward others. It sometimes simply means that the one favored is shown kindness and treated with a generosity and goodwill far beyond what would normally be expected. This is generally the favor that we receive from the Lord. We are treated much better than we could expect. Of course, every believer is favored to some degree. Therefore, we must understand God’s favor in degrees. The more we please God, the more we will be favored by Him. Also, it is important not to think of this favor in material or worldly terms. God’s favor most likely will be given in spiritual blessings more than in material blessings.
Here are some of the ways by which we obtain the favor of the Lord:
By praying unto the Lord (Job 33:26).
By keeping the commandments of the Lord (Proverbs 3:1-4).
By seeking and finding God’s wisdom (Proverbs 8:35).
By diligently seeking good (Proverbs 11:27; 12:2).
By living righteously (Proverbs 14:9).
There are many benefits of being in the favor of the Lord. Here are some of them:
Our petitions are more likely to be granted (Esther 7:3 and Nehemiah 1:11).
God will compass us with a shield (Psalm 5:12).
We will receive life (Psalm 30:5).
Our enemies will not triumph over us (Psalm 41:11).
God will show mercy (Psalm 119:58).
We can grow in favor both with God and with man-as did the child Samuel (1 Samuel 2:26) and the child Jesus (Luke 2:52).
The phrase, to find favor in the eyes of, or, in the sight of, came from the Old Testament. Every saint of God should desire and seek to have favor in the eyes of the Lord. We grow in that favor as we faithfully live for the Lord.
However, this should not be looked upon as some sort of secret formula for getting everything we want. For purposes of His own, God sometimes takes those He loves through special trials. Job is the primary example but similar instances happen in the lives of many. However, if we continually draw closer to the Lord, we will come to dwell in His favor and in His favor is life (Psalm 30:5).
How different would your life be if you were walking in divine favor? Does God give favor, bless abundantly and lavish his grace on hungry, awaiting hearts? The answer is yes. But, favor is dangerous. The Hebrew Scriptures made it clear in story after story that favor can be accompanied by danger, difficulty, hardship, pressure, persecution, pain, trials and tribulations. Sadly, much of the American church won’t acknowledge this about God’s favor. Many pastors teach that favor means a lack of difficulties, being prosperous, having a nice house or car, never being persecuted, always being on top.
Our prayer should be this, “Lord, I want my life to be meaningful for your kingdom’s sake. I know it can never be that way without your favor. So, bring it on, Lord. Give me all that you have — trial or blessing.”
We don’t pray this lightly. But we aren’t to be frightened, as the angel told Mary not to be when he appeared to her in Luke 1:26-30:
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
Putting aside all fear, let this be our prayer: “Lord, our generation needs your favor. May you show it to us for your kingdom’s sake.”
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalms 90:17 NIV84)