Are you the favored child in your Note or was it another sibling of yours? Did you grow up with a notion that one of your siblings was the favorite? What’s it like to be the favorite? What’s it like to NOT be the favorite? We each respond well to being the favorite (being favored), or so I would guess. But how does that work with God? How does the idea of favorites work with humans?
In reading an article from PsychologyToday.com on favoritism and it had an interesting insight:
What is critical is that all children trust that they are loved and appreciated for what makes them special. Love is unconditional, whereas favoritism is not. Favoritism depends upon children behaving in ways that gratifies parents.
We are diving into Luke 1 this weekend; Mary is referred to by the angel Gabriel as being a favorite of God. That could be very disruptive to the idea of “good news” if you reflect on the article from PsychologyToday.com. What Ellen Weber Libby Ph.D. is pointing out matches a view that I always grew up with; I’m guessing most Americans and most humans in this world attain to this view of “favorites:” the child or person earns that status of “favorite.”
Does that match God’s truth? I hope not but let’s not base this on my feeling or my thoughts but on God’s true and inspired Word.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
OK, Mary is the “favored one.” She’s the favorite. What’s wrong with applying my cultural understanding of favorite to this reading? It’s completely upside down and backwards. Verse 28 literally means that Mary is favored. She is the recipient of God grace. But wait, that seems to already indicate a discrepancy from the cultural view of favorites (favorites must earn that status). If you concluded that, based on the word, “grace” or “underserved love,” you would be correct.
Verse 30 helps to round out our understanding of “favored one.” “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). That phrase, “you have found . . .” betrays what the REAL meaning of favorite is. Real favorites of God are those who . . .
sense their undeserving nature, they see that their attraction to ungodly ideas is very real, they have calculated all the misgivings and hurtful posture
And they yearn for God to give them what they don’t deserve.
This was a good picture of Mary. She had a heart that was prepared for Gabriel’s words and God’s gift. She found herself very dependent and had search out His Scriptures to see if God would favor such an undeserving person as herself. Jackpot - she found it!
That’s what favorite means in God’s realm. You don’t earn it. You live for the grace that God has promised. Mary did. She found God’s favor in the tapestry of His Ancient letters to His people. She had heard the words from the parchment of Isaiah and David’s penning of some Psalms. She learned more and more of her undeserving nature and of God’s Very Generous nature. She liked what she found and by faith, she held onto it.
In short, that is what “finding favor with God” means for her and also for us. So here are my final questions for you so that you can sit comfortably in the same position as Mary:
One: Do you know about His grace? If you don’t, search the Scriptures.
Two: Do you trust His grace? If you don’t, search the Scriptures.
Three: Do you live trusting His grace? If you don’t, search the Scriptures.
Blessings to you, highly favored one!