My word for 2021 is “Favor”. I’ll be unpacking this word in my next blog posts. This idea of favor brings many questions to mind. What is it and how is it obtained?
There is a very hard question I always ask myself. What does it look like to truly love others? I have been tried and tested lately in this area. I think everyone must struggle with serving others in love. But what you choose to do will be recorded. Not sure if that unsettles you, but it does me.
I’ve been reading a lot on social media how people do not think they have a responsibility to others, only to themselves. You can disagree with me but I think that is selfish. Everyone has a right to their privacy and time. But if you are a Christ-follower, He states that we must serve others out of a heart of love.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that we should have healthy boundaries in our lives to protect our peace and sanity. But how many of us actually think of other’s needs?
Serving others can be challenging. But the Bible is pretty clear.
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13
This verse touches on our freedoms. To live in such a way as to not lord your freedom over others. What does using that freedom look like in serving someone else in brotherly love?
It looks like forgiving others when you don’t want to and showing long-suffering.
It looks like selflessly putting someone else‘s welfare before your own.
It looks like taking time out to check in on that elderly neighbor, even when you don’t feel like it.
It looks like calling that person who asked you to pray for them.
It looks like taking someone to buy groceries when they are in need, even though you are in need too.
Because when you love like this, God’s favor is upon you. I believe in the Law of Reciprocity. Some call it “The Golden Rule”. I call it the Law of the Harvest. What you sow, you will reap.
Jesus says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35
The idea of the favor of God is prevalent in one of my favorite stories in the Bible: Esther. Esther humbled herself and submitted to the wisdom of her uncle and Hegai, the official in charge of overseeing the women who would be selected to become the queen.
She didn’t rely on her own efforts but depended on God’s unmerited favor, trusting Him for her future.
It was the Lord Who promoted her and exalted her above all the other beautiful women. God resists the proud and gives unmerited favor to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). When you humble yourself and cease from your efforts to promote yourself, and depend on Jesus alone, the Lord Himself will be your promotion and increase. Like Esther, you will stand out in a crowd and obtain grace and favor with God and man.
Her story shows how God can work through anyone.
“Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her.” - Esther 2:15
The word favor or “ratson” means pleasure, delight, desire. It speaks of God surrounding one as with a shield. Total protection and blessing.
Esther had to overcome fear that upon appearing un-summoned before the king, she could be put to death. Ultimately, it brings us to one of the most famous lines by her Uncle Mordecai:
“Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
You never truly know the ripple effect of your life. Esther could not have possibly known that she would one day be chosen as the queen of Persia, much less save her entire nation from destruction.
Mordecai encouraged Esther to do what was necessary to save God’s people, putting herself at risk. She put her faith in God that His sovereign purposes would ultimately prevail because her answer to her uncle was, “If I perish, I perish.”
She lived in submission, dependence and obedience and gave up her right to live in order to save the Jews from certain death.
Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
As a believer in Jesus Christ, we are united by our faith to Him in His death and we die to the old life we once had before coming to faith in Him and now we are risen to new life through it. I can’t help but think that this is what happened to Esther. She died to her own will and trusted in God. She could have died but God raised her and her people to new life.
You and I may never become a queen or rise to some amazing position of power or fame. But, you and I each have a destiny. God has great moments in store for your life.
I look back on 17 years of pastoring Oasis Church NYC. If we had never church planted, we would not have known the joy of serving a community. I look back on the many that have become followers of Jesus because of this church’s ministry.
So, never forget that God has plans for you. He has great moments of destiny for you. Never give up hope. Let God bestow His grace, blessings and favor upon you.
My prayer is that Christ’s love would so permeate our hearts that we look like His disciples to others so that they become interested in why we love so well.