CALL TO OBEDIENCE #464
Reimar A.C. Schultze
"Mary Found Favor"
Reimar A. C. Schultze
Let us first ponder the question what is meant by being favored? To be favored makes us recipients of the “extra.” It takes us out of the mundane, out of the dullness of life. It makes our burdens become lighter and our cup to overflow. It drives away darkness, destroys disappointment and eliminates hopelessness. It puts a spring in our steps, a smile on our face and a twinkle in our eyes.
Now, of course, there are two kinds of favor. There is the favor of man and there is the favor of God. Man showing favor to other men is obvious and we all know that it is the right thing to do most of the time. The child who has worked hard to get good grades certainly deserves favor over the one who has been negligent in his studies. A worker who has been conscientious certainly deserves to be favored over one who just barely does his duty. Again, when we show favoritism for one man over another, it seems right to us. But unfortunately, the doctrine of God showing favoritism to one person over another is disintegrating with the popular new emphasis that God treats every man the same. Indeed, God wants us to treat everyone the same when it comes to salvation, social status or wealth (James 2:1-4). But after that, it stops. The whole Bible is a book that teaches us that, in this life and the life to come, God rewards each one according to his works (Rev. 20:12). God also has His favorites.
God favored Mary over all other virgins to bear the Christ child. God favored Abel over Cain, Shem and Japheth over Canaan, Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph and David over all of their brethren. He favored three of His disciples over the rest of the twelve. And He will be showing favor to two people: one to sit on His right side and the other on His left side in His throne. God has His favorites and we must learn to live with it. God is neither dumb nor blind that He cannot tell the difference between the need of a 10-year-old and a 50-year-old, between an old saint and a new convert, between an obedient servant and a slothful servant, etc. God treats each one of us according to what we need to bring us to where we ought to be. Do not fuss about the inequality of His treatment to each one of us because it is necessary to meet our needs where we are. So, God is just and He gives each one of us His special, custom-designed treatment. Were it not so, life would be very boring. God is never wrong. But in all the diverse ways that we are treated or favored by God, there is one underlying principle that serves as a common denominator in all the favoritism God sends our way and it is as follows:
God favors those who favor Him. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God (Luke 1:30). The reason why Mary found favor with God was because she had made up her mind early in her childhood that God would be both the substance and the chief end of her life. When any of us do that, we are placed in a position to receive favor from God. Our ability to receive favor from God is because of this spiritual law: God favors those who favor Him. There are physical laws governing the physical universe; and there are spiritual laws governing the spiritual universe which is the kingdom of God. We cannot stand upright, build a suspension bridge nor fly an airplane without relying on physical laws. Everything we see with our eyes, touch with our hands and hear with our ears is governed by physical laws.
As a natural man needs to obey and align himself to physical laws, the spiritual man also needs to obey and align his life with spiritual laws. There is much chaos in many of our churches and in the lives of many Christians today because we are either ignorant of the laws that govern our spiritual life or unwilling to submit to them claiming that since we have Christ, we no longer need laws. We assume that a relationship with Christ replaces law, but it does not.
The absence of law destroys relationships. If we commit adultery or bear false witness, we destroy our relationship with Christ and with our spouse. Attending to spiritual laws is like maintaining spiritual etiquette. We need to know how to behave ourselves in the presence of the King. If we do not obey His rules, we will be thrown out of the palace (Gen. 3:24; Matt. 22:11-13). We need to know that the Bible has other laws of life for us to keep that have the same moral weight as the Ten Commandments. In the Old Testament, many of them are cloaked in the garment of precepts, testimonies, ways, statutes, and judgments as we see them so beautifully displayed in the Psalms. The psalmist delights in them day and night and these are other names for law or commandments. The moral universe is much bigger than we think it is. To the psalmists, God and His word were one. We cannot separate them. When we reject the one, we are also rejecting the other.
This is also true in the New Testament with Jesus and His anointed apostles. What they say are also laws, commandments, precepts, testimonies, ways, statutes and judgments. When we meddle with them, we are meddling with God and our relationship with Him will come to an end. We will be out of His favor. Jesus said that unless we forsake all and follow Him, we cannot be one of His disciples (Luke 14:27, 33). He means it and also says: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Matt. 7:21); and If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned (John 15:6). These words have the same weight as the Ten Commandments; they are not relationship breakers but relationship keepers. Yes, as the psalmists have said: they are lamps unto our feet and light unto our path. They bring order to our life and give strength to our spiritual bones. They give us direction and focus, peace and joy. The Levitical laws have expiration dates, but these do not and will bear fruit into eternity.
Again, the spiritual life is not a life of lawlessness. It is not unprincipled. The laws of the Lord are steadfast for the breaking down of strongholds. Therefore, you can also count on this spiritual law because the summation of the Old Testament and the New Testament is a truckload of truth: God favors those who favor Him. If you favor God, you will flourish like the palm tree... and ...grow like a cedar in Lebanon (Ps. 92:12). Nothing can stop that! Again, the favor of God upon Mary was a result of a life given to God. But Mary was not only favored; she was highly favored. The angel also said to her: ...Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee... (Luke 1:28).
It is a wonderful thing to be favored by God, but it is much more wonderful to be highly favored. There was a degree of passion in Mary’s godly life mixed with the flavor of frankincense oil. Scholars tell us that this proclamation from the angel was when she was between 12 and 14 years of age! Is it any wonder that God selected her for the birth of the Christ child which would bless every single person that would ever be born until the end of time? Let us all aspire to obtain God’s favor with like passion and beauty. May our young ladies keep their virginity for that which God has planned for them. The fruits of eternity are birthed in lives of spiritual purity and the light of the church is carried from generation to generation on the shoulders of those who are favored by God.
Being favored by God is not a matter of luck. It is not like God putting His hand into a bag and pulling out our number. It is the consequence of a life given to God, one moment at a time. It will be rewarded forever. Now, let us turn the page regarding this spiritual principle and look at what is on the other side, on the back page of this. Here it is:
Having favor with God invites disfavor from man. Count on it; plan on it; and get used to it. Consider it an honor to take up your cross as Jesus did. He said: Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven... (Luke 6:22-23).
It was not long after this divine visitation that Mary became the subject of gossip and innuendos. The irregularity of her pregnancy and this birth continued to be subject of disdain to some (John 8:41). It was not long after this that Mary became a refugee having to flee to Egypt. With the Christ child, everything in her life changed dramatically. My friend, that is the normal Christian life. That is one obvious sign of a true conversion, of following Jesus. From the time you receive Christ and follow Him, nothing will be the same forevermore. And that includes rejection by the world. Forget about popularity with man. You cannot belong to the honor societies of man and of God at the same time. Throw your trophies at His feet and crown Him Lord of lords. You cannot afford to be sidetracked and expect to win. Jesus said: ...if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light (Matt. 6:22). Be a man or a woman of light and you will become the salt of the earth and a station of help and hope: as the Spirit of the Lord will be upon you and He will anoint you to preach the gospel to the poor; ...to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind (Luke 4:18). His cause will then become your cause and His focus will become your focus. You will begin to travel in and with His presence, and then become one of those favored by God!
But in all of this, you must be willing to take on this fight in the arena of faith and be willing to have your face marred with dust and sweat to eventually be found sitting in the bleachers of God’s crowd of witnesses and cheering on others still on their way. You will belong to the ones of which Hebrews says: ...of whom the world was not worthy (Heb. 11:38).
So, my dear brother and sister, God is waiting to grant you His favor so that you shall reign with Him forever, but you must take the first step to get this blessing: begin to favor Him in everything you do and then everything else will fall into place. And you will indeed enter into a special relationship with Him unlike any other. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him... (2 Chron. 16:9).