Freely Get. Freely Give.

I feel like I owe our third-grade-team leader a lot. She’s always doing me little favors: getting copies of interesting reading activities, making sure I have enough printer paper, checking that I understand how to do the science experiments… she goes above and beyond to ensure I get materials and information that she could just let me try to obtain on my own. She does this for everyone on our team, not because we’ve done anything for her, but because she voluntarily took on the responsibility of making sure we all understand what we’re supposed to be doing. I tell her all the time, “If there’s anything I can ever do for YOU, please let me know!” but she never asks me for any favors. Sometimes I can find little things that might show her she’s appreciated or help her get things done. But unfortunately she has more to give than I do, and it’s pretty much a one-way deal.

We might feel like we owe someone a favor, but the truth is, favor can’t be earned! We don’t always recognize that fact in our interactions with other people, but fortunately, God not only grants us favors, he shows his favor towards us without expecting us to do anything to earn it.

Understanding what favor means is crucial to understanding how it works. The word ‘favor’ was chosen by Bible translators as the closest English word to the original Hebrew "ratsown,", which means "pleasure, delight, favour, goodwill, acceptance". Our English word for favor has several meanings which are all worth looking at:

1. something done or granted out of goodwill, rather than from justice or for remuneration; a kind act.
2. friendly or well-disposed regard; goodwill.
3. the state of being approved or held in regard.
4. excessive kindness or unfair partiality; preferential treatment.

Here’s the important conclusion you can draw: another good word for favor is grace. We know from scripture we can’t earn grace because it’s given freely by God. It’s a gift, and gifts can’t be earned. So if grace is given as a free gift to us from God, and grace is favor, then we cannot earn favor.

Most of us understand that when we ask God to do something for us, we’re ALWAYS asking for a favor. It’s ALWAYS something that He would do out of goodwill, not because we deserve it. That’s the first definition of favor. But when we ask God specifically for His favor on our lives or over a situation, many of us don’t understand what we’re really asking. We’re moving into the second, third, and fourth definitions of favor and that’s where things get a little murky. Being held in high regard? Excessive kindness? Preferential treatment? Are we really supposed to be asking for those things?


The Old Testament is full of examples of people who found favor in the eyes of God without even asking (Noah, Daniel, and the virgin Mary). There are also many people who asked specifically for favor and received it (Jacob, Moses, Ruth, and Nehehmiah). The Lord gave all of these people special privilege or treatment because they had one thing in common: in the words of Daniel, they “sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to Your truth.” (Dan. 9:13).

It's obvious then that favor for those who follow God is a biblical concept. The psalmist David confirms this: For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (Ps 5:12). He goes on to say: For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless (Ps. 84:10-12).

Hmmm. That’s where the trouble comes in. My walk is far from blameless. So how can I ask for favor?


God looks on the heart. If a person’s heart attitude was right, He bestowed favor on them. The book of Isaiah shows this clearly with the Israelites: “For this is a people without understanding; so their Maker has no compassion on them, and their Creator shows them no favor”. (Is. 27:10-12). But God promises that when the people began to acknowledge and love Him once again, "Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you. Though in anger I struck you, in favor I will show you compassion.” (Is. 60:9-11).

So we also learn that favor can be gained and lost. This principle is illustrated through the story of Samuel, as well. As a young child, he walked in the ways of God, “and the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men.”(1 Sam. 2:25-27). Later in life, he strayed from God and began experience defeat: “I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering." (1 Sam. 13:11-13). Samuel hoped that he could earn back the Lord’s favor with his own actions.

But all of those examples are from the Old Testament. Mary the mother of Jesus was the last person in the Bible to be told she was favored by God (Luke 1:27-44). In fact, there is only one clear-cut reference to favor in the entire New Testament. It's when Paul is writing to the Corinthians and he quotes Isaiah: “For He [God] says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I [Paul] tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.(2 Cor. 6:1-3).

NOW is the time of his favor. NOW! The Old Testament abounds with references of please show favor, if I have found favor, grant me favor, let me find favor. But favor is never asked for again after the death and resurrection of Christ! Not because we aren’t allowed it… because already have it in Christ!

Jesus is the ultimate expression of God’s favor (grace) towards us! We can’t FIND favor. We FIND Jesus! We no longer have to ask for favor, we declare it and walk in it, in the name of Jesus!!! Romans 8 tell us, He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us? (Ro. 8:32-34)

God is favorable to us for the sake of His son, apart from our works. We may not always feel favored, but we are, for Jesus’ sake. We are incredibly blessed to live in an age in which we no longer have to hope God will show favor to us, but in which we can come confidently before the throne of God.

We can follow God’s example by doing favors for others even when they don’t deserve it, without expecting anything in return, simply for the sake of Jesus. And we can accept God’s favor over our lives in the name of Jesus, too. To all who believe in His son, the Lord accepts unconditionally and gives to freely with pleasure and delight. His kindness is excessive and extravagant. He bestows His favor on His people in the name of His son. Our challenge is to do the same. We need to do ourselves a favor and stop trying to earn God's kindness. Instead, we can ask the Lord to help us accept it unconditionally and give freely to others so that they can see His goodwill through us. Freely you have received; freely give.


Go Deeper!

-Check out Jesus' instructions for us in Luke 6:30-37: "Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

-What does having the favor of God mean? (article from learnthebible.org)

-The Grace of God and Cheap Grace (article from In His Steps Ministries)

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