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For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

– Galatians 1:10 (NASB)

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Photo by Caleb Oquendo from Pexels

 

Do we find favor? Or, vice versa, does favor find us?

The question lingers on.

Yet, favor with God is entirely different from favor with men.  The Lord is said to look at the heart, while man is caught up in the outward appearance.  The world looks on and assesses what is on the outside and obvious, but the Lord searches the innermost parts of man and in His secret places for what is hidden from the natural eye.

Paul’s argument to the Galatians is that seeking to please man disqualifies you as a servant of the Lord, according to Galatians 1:10. The context of his argument is based on the profession of the Good News as the gospel and that there is no other gospel for consideration. His argument was rooted in the inherent defense of the Word of God against those who would twist and manipulate it to lead others astray with unnecessary ritualistic demands. What Paul was saying to the Galatians was that their faith should remain rooted in the gospel that touched their hearts and changed their lives.

When we read the early chapters of Galatians, we can sense how deeply immersed Paul was in the upkeep of the faith of these fellow believers. But we also get a sense of how much Paul did not worry about the favor of men.

22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” – Galatians 1:22-23 (ESV)

Something here shows us that Paul was not seeking notoriety for His Damascus Road experience or a warm reception from those whom he once persecuted. Paul just sought to be known for “preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” That was the case with Lee Strobel, C.S. Lewis, and Stephen Baldwin. Their efforts to disprove and destroy the effects of the Good News on others led to their own conversion.

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But can one find both favor with God and man?

The words from Proverbs 3:4 simply say it is possible: “So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.” The upbringing of the Lord Jesus demonstrate it is so, saying: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52, ESV).

Proverbs 19:6 helps us to understand that: ” Many seek the favor of a generous man. . .”  People will desire the favor of those who seem to have power and authority as in Proverbs 16:15 and 19:12. The problem is seeking man’s favor alone will never truly satisfy our souls.

So, it is possible to have favor with both God and man. We just cannot allow the pursuit of favor with man to outweigh our desire to find favor with God. Favor with man is just an added benefit that might come along with favor with God.  It is not a given that those who find favor with God will automatically also find favor with man.

The prophets experienced this firsthand. They were given the message of the Lord for the people, but they also were viewed as troublemakers and considered disruptive to the prosperity and peace that the people of God had discovered and tried to enjoy.  Oftentimes, the prophetic books of the Bible open with the fact that their message was a burden to bear for the sake of the people and in obedience to God.

Look at the life of David. He was anointed as a lad but not appointed until later.  Imagine living that life under the nose of King Saul. He served under him and you were married to his daughter as well as best friends with his son. But he was also destined to rule in Saul’s place. This put David at odds with Saul later.

Just imagine if what made you special made others skeptical.

What if it made them suspicious of your motives?

What if you being marked out for something special also left you marked as a target for ridicule and resentment by others?

Take a brief moment and think back to the last time you graciously showered someone else with favor. Was it a transforming experience or was it purely a transaction? Have you ever shared your power and influence in favor of someone who cannot even get their foot in the door?

Maybe it is time that you reflect back to the times when you needed favor.  Even better yet, think about the times when you fell out of favor and how badly you desired to regain your status.

To be a little more godly, we’re all going to have to figure out how to be a little more gracious and generous. When we do so, we can freely give to others without seeking anything in return.

 

 

 

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