Understanding the 40 Parables of Jesus Christ: Learn from the greatest teacher Jesus Christ. The gospel taught in stories.

What Does the Bible Really Say about the Favor of God?


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The favor of God is a good thing to have, but the biblical definition of God's favor is very different from the definition used in the prosperity gospel. There are definitely verses that talk about God's favor, including:

"For you will bless the righteous. Yahweh, you will surround him with favor as with a shield." (Psalms 5:12 WEB)

"For his anger is but for a moment; His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may stay for the night, But joy comes in the morning." (Psalms 30:5 WEB)

However, in the context of these verses, the concept of God's favor depicts a different definition than the commonly taught "success and wealth" or that "everything will go your way."

First, what does Paul and Peter say about God's favor?


Paul and Peter on the Favor of God

The concept of the favor of God is sometimes confused with the concept of favoritism. This is what Peter has to say about God showing favoritism:

"Peter opened his mouth and said, 'Truly I perceive that God doesn't show favoritism; but in every nation he who fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.'" (Acts 10:34-35 WEB)

Peter is speaking about salvation in this verse, explaining that it is for the Jews and Gentiles. However, the truth of God not showing favoritism is true despite the subject.

Paul has similar thoughts about favoritism.

"Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who 'will render to every man according to his works'" to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruptibility, eternal life; but to those who are self-seeking, and don't obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, will be wrath and indignation, oppression and anguish, on every soul of man who works evil...For there is no partiality with God." (Romans 2:4-9,11 WEB)

Similar to Peter talking about salvation, Paul is speaking about judgment, explaining that no one will be shown favoritism or partiality. Everyone will be judged according to their actions. Again, Paul asks the question, "not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4 WEB)

Paul is explaining to the Roman believers that they must repent, or else they will face judgment with all the other unrepentant sinners "...but to those who are self-seeking, and don't obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, will be wrath and indignation, oppression and anguish, on every soul of man who works evil..." (Romans 2:9 WEB)

So clearly God does not show favoritism, but what about these other verses that speak of the favor of God? What are they really talking about?


Real Meaning of the Favor of God

David speaks about the favor of God frequently in Psalms. For example:

"For you will bless the righteous. Yahweh, you will surround him with favor as with a shield." (Psalm 5:12 WEB)

In context, David is making this statement while experiencing hardship. He is talking about his enemies who have sinned against him, and when he speaks of God's favor, he is talking about what Paul says in Romans 8:28: "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose." (WEB)

God defends his righteous against the evil intentions of others, promising to defend them spiritually against the powers of this world. The concept of favor in Psalms 5:12 has nothing to do with being successful in life, becoming wealthy, or having favoritism with God.

These verses in Psalms, in their context, are communicating this idea of being defended from evil when the word "favor" is used.

"For his anger is but for a moment; His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may stay for the night, But joy comes in the morning." (Psalms 30:5 WEB)

In the context of Psalms 30:5, David has sinned by being prideful (Psalms 30:6), which has brought evil and bad situations into his life as a consequence (Psalms 30:7). However, David repented and is acknowledging that God can restore him by removing the evil and troubles from his life. Again, the concept of favor has nothing to do with success or finances. It is favor (protection) against evil. Remember when David said, "you will surround him with favor as with a shield." (Psalms 5:12 WEB)

The favor of God is protection from evil.


Clarification of God's Protection

In the Bible, God does not promise physical protection, which is why martyrdom happens, although it is something we can still pray for.

Jesus frequently warns believers of persecution, which may result in physical harm and even death. In Revelation 2:10, Jesus tells believers, "Don't be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested; and you will have oppression for ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life." (WEB)

So God does not promise physical protection, but he does promise to protect us from spiritual evil, and he promises to ultimately restore us with a second and eternal life. "This is the will of my Father who sent me, that of all he has given to me I should lose nothing, but should raise them up at the last day." (John 6:39 WEB)

Jesus is claiming that all who are redeemed belong to him, and that all who have been claimed by Jesus will be kept by Jesus. This is the favor of God: protection against evil, forever, in the form of an eternal life.

"I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father's hand." (John 10:28-29 WEB)


Favor of God and Everything Going Your Way

There are verse that appear, superficially, to indicate that God's favor may mean that everything goes your way. For example, in Genesis it speaks of Joseph prospering:

"His master saw that Yahweh was with him, and that Yahweh made all that he did prosper in his hand. Joseph found favor in his sight. He ministered to him, and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand." (Genesis 39:3-4 WEB)

God did make Joseph successful for a purpose later revealed in Genesis 42. However, it does not say that Joseph found favor with God. Instead it says that Joseph found favor with his master Potiphar. Furthermore, Joseph is later accused of trying to sleep with Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39:17-21) and he is thrown in to prison for at least 2 years (Genesis 41:1).

Some will insist that this story still indicates that Joseph's success is equivalent to favor with God, but really God protected Joseph from evil by causing others to have a favorable opinion of him.

Furthermore, everything did not go Joseph's way. First, he was thrown into a hole by his brothers and left to die. Then, he was sold into slavery, and then he was wrongly thrown into prison. In reality, nothing went Joseph's way, but God protected him from evil throughout it all. The only reason Joseph got out of prison was because of God giving the Pharaoh dreams, while also giving Joseph the answer to those dreams.

This redemption from evil was completely the work of God, and is the true meaning of the favor of God.


Children of God and Inheritors of His Kingdom

A common teaching that often accompanies the idea of God's favor is that we are royalty as the children of God. Often, it is said that we are the princes and princesses of God Almighty.

What does Jesus say about being a child of God?

"Even so you also, when you have done all the things that are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy servants. We have done our duty.'" (Luke 17:10 WEB)

Humility is what is expected of God's people. This is also taught by Jesus elsewhere, such as Luke 18:10-14.

"But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn't even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted [before God]." (Luke 18:13-14 WEB)


The Wealthy and Successful are Often Sinners

God does make believers successful (always for a greater purpose). However, wealth and success are not good measures of God's favor, because oftentimes the wealthy and successful are actually sinners, while the righteous are poor.

As an example from the Bible, in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the poor man is the one who goes to heaven while the rich man goes to hell.

In addition, for those believers who are wealthy, God says to give to the poor: "Jesus said to him, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions." (Matthew 19:21-22 WEB)

Jesus then proceeds to teach that it is difficult for a rich man to enter heaven (because of their attachment to wealth).

However, God does make believers successful in various ways, such as by (1) having favor with others, like Joseph, (2) discovering or inventing something, such as many Christians have done, or (3) even by accumulating wealth. However, this is not the "favor of God." And if God is making you materially successful, it is for the purpose of serving him and others.

"Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don't break through and steal; for where your treasure is, your heart will be there also." (Matthew 6:19-21 WEB)

"But God said to him, 'You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared – whose will they be?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:20-21 WEB)


Verse of the Week

"Even so you also, when you have done all the things that are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy servants. We have done our duty.'" (Luke 17:10 WEB)

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