I struggled in my message yesterday trying to verbalize something I have been thinking of for a long time but had never tried to write. I always have to explore a subject by speaking on it or writing on it for a while before I can really get a handle on it. So, here we go again.
It is almost an oxymoron to speak of “seeking” God’s “favor” due to the fact that God is sovereign and He favors that which He chooses. With that disclaimer in place, we must still be aware of the message the angel delivered to Mary: “Mary: for thou hast FOUND favour with God” (Luke 1:30).
If we explore the NT Greek version of the word for favor, we get “charis,” or our word “grace.” I think, in the message by the angel to Mary, it is used in the same sense as it was used in Acts 4:33 where the scripture describes the aftermath of the mighty prayer meeting the disciples had after being threatened by the Sanhedrin. “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and GREAT GRACE was upon them all.
In a modern application, this speaks of the difference between “having church as usual,” and “experiencing an outpouring of the Holy Spirit” of such magnitude that it makes everybody and everything different.
We don’t know what, if anything, Mary had done that caused the favor of God to be placed upon her other than to be an unassuming recipient of a sovereign work of the Father. However, we can’t get away from the fact that the angel spoke of the fact that she had “FOUND” favor with God. This seems to indicate that there was some attention paid by Mary to piety and faith in her life that caught the attention of God, that made her a vessel chosen of God.
In every work of God, there is both the human side and the divine side. Spontaneous bestowments of God’s power and favor rarely happen. There is inevitably the human factor that enters into the equation, even though that factor may be (and often is) hidden from public view.
While we don’t know what preludes occurred in the life of Mary, we do know something of the things that occurred in the lives of the apostles. Looking forward in the New Testament to the first epistle by the Apostle Peter (remembering that Peter was a crucial part of both the Pentecost event and that which happened in the upper room. Knowing he had experienced firsthand the mighty outpouring of God at Pentecost and the “great grace” in Acts 4, it is significant to hear his admonitions thinking that he might be able to give us some clues regarding our pursuit of the Father’s favor:
“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is GRACIOUS. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:1-5).
It seems that there are five heart preparations that must precede the seeking of His favor with each of these having to do with our people skills. We are to lay aside or be done with:
1. All malice. Malice has to do with an attitude that is warped by hatred and is expressed by meanness especially toward those by whom one feels threatened.
2. All guile. Guile has to do with deviousness and deceitfulness–a manipulative spirit usually expressed in lies, subterfuge, and/or pretense.
3. Hypocrisies. Hypocrisy has to do with role-playing, pretension, facades and other means of hiding the real person and assuming a role that is not genuine all for manipulative purposes.
4. Envying. To envy is an attitude of covetousness. It means to desire something that is not ours. It has the idea of and attitude of grasping for substance or the exploitation of people and circumstances to get that which we feel that we would be otherwise deprived.
5. Evil speaking. This presents the ideas of backbiting, judgmentalism, gossiping, and slander. This puts us on very shaky ground bring up the question as to whether it is ever right to make character assessments, drawing up negative conclusions about a person. The key word is “redemptive.” Are the conclusions we draw based on our redemptive intent toward them.
Since this is getting rather lengthy, I will continue in tomorrow’s Today. Blessings,
Books by Jefferson H. Floyd
Copyright 2010 Norma R. Floyd. All rights reserved.