Jesus’ favorite disciple was sitting next to him at the meal.
(John 13:23 CEV)
Jesus chose twelve disciples, but only three chose to be close to Him–Peter, James and John. Still, only John came to be known as Jesus’ “favorite disciple.” Of course, Jesus loved all of His disciples, but as J. Oswald Sanders notes, “If Jesus loved John more, it was because John loved Him more.” One of my favourite Scriptures shows how we become special to God. “Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth” (Exodus 19:5 NLT). When you love and obey God, you become special to Him.
God loves us all but it takes more to become His special child.
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? (James 2:1 NLT)
Even the best of us are guilty of showing favouritism. But did you know that God is against it? The Bible tells us that God doesn’t show favouritism (Acts 10:34), and neither should we. God taught Peter an important lesson about favouritism (see Acts 10:9-47), and if need be, He’ll teach us too. I’ve often been convicted by the passage in James 2:1 and it has become my prayer that God will keep me from showing favouritism. God has honoured this prayer over and over again, and He’ll do the same for you if you’ll ask Him.
God doesn’t show favouritism and neither should we.
Ialso made provision for contributions of wood at designated times, and for the firstfruits. Remember me with favor, my God. (Nehemiah 13:31 NIV)
While people may not necessarily notice or reward us for doing good, God does and that’s all that matters. That’s why in the final chapter of the book, Nehemiah prayed three times that not the people, but God Himself, would bless him for the good things that he had done (13:14, 22, 31). After all, the real praise should come from the source of all that’s good–God Himself. Therefore, as His children, good deeds are to characterize our lives as well, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). While doing good deeds doesn’t guarantee our entrance into heaven, they’re proof of Christ’s character in us. In fact, the Bible encourages us to persevere in doing good, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10). I’m sure that God blessed Nehemiah for all the good things that he did and that He’ll do the same for us when we continue to do good.
“No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have foundfavor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.” (Genesis 33:10 NIV)
Prior to his encounter with his older brother Esau, Jacob had encountered God face to face and his life was spared (very unusual of those who saw God). As a result, Jacob named the place Peniel meaning, “face of God” saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared” (Genesis 32:30). When Jacob met Esau and Esau received him favourably instead of killing him for stealing his birthright and blessing, Jacob said to him, “For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.” Esau had done what God had done in His meeting with Jacob. For you see, when we treat others the way God does, we reflect Him.
To behold the kindness of others is to behold the face of God.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
(Psalm 51:17 NLT)
Our heart says a lot about us. Jesus said, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart” (Luke 6:45). The words in Psalm 51:17 reveal a penitent heart. David says, “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” God looks with favour on the heart that’s humbled before Him. It pleases Him more than anything you have to offer. When your heart is broken by trouble or sin, look to God and expect His mercy.
Remember me, LORD, when you show favor to your people. (Psalm 106:4 NLT)
Do you ever feel like everyone else is more favoured than you are? Something good is usually happening to them, while you seem to be missing out. Well, you’re not alone. In today’s passage, the psalmist too seems to have felt this way. But what did he do? He asked God to remember him with favour as well. He realized that the Lord could do for him what He was doing for other people, and he wanted to be part of it. I challenge you to pray Psalm 106:4 daily and watch God pour His favour on your life. Because He will.
The LORD told Moses, “When Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel, they must say: I pray that the LORD will bless and protect you, and that he will show you mercy and kindness. May the LORD be good to you and give you peace.”
(Numbers 6:22-26 CEV)
While only the priestly family of Aaron were allowed to convey this blessing on the people of Israel, every believer in Christ today, who has been declared a priest by God (1 Peter 2:9), can bestow this blessing on others as well. This benediction encompasses everything that anyone would want–God’s blessing, protection, favour and peace. It has become my prayer for family and friends. If you want to bless someone and aren’t sure how, start with Numbers 6:24-26. It’s my prayer “that the LORD will bless and protect you, and that he will show you mercy and kindness. May the LORD be good to you and give you peace.”
Believers in Christ can impart blessings on others.
It’s been said that the year 2020 has brought about clear vision. I’ll be the first to tell you how true that is. With the ability to slow down and reflect on the state we’re in, I’m finding that I’m reaching that perfect vision. But I’m also going to tell you that this perfect vision comes at a price. There are people and things that we’ll lose in our journey to freedom. Change is not easy. Adjusting to our new normal is going to take some time. And we’re going to feel tempted to run back to the familiar in order to escape our current reality, but now, more than ever, we shouldn’t. We need to take a stand and not run. We need to face those things that we’ve been avoiding even though they may be uncomfortable.
I believe that there is always some truth in what people say. There’s been much talk about people who are privileged and who use that privilege to their advantage to get ahead of others, even if it means some kind of loss to other people. Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? While we’ve all known this for quite some time, it seems as though the current world events have shed more light on the issue. How many of us can recall people in our lives right now who are doing that? And what have we done about it? Most of us choose to overlook it because we don’t want to get involved. But not doing anything about it doesn’t eliminate the problem and doesn’t make us any less guilty. As a Christian, I’ve said things like “God will handle the injustice,” but now I know that I could have been His agent in brining about that justice and change needed around me. Associating with people who use their privilege to rob others of their dreams and rights is a sin, no matter what you do to excuse the behaviour. Unless there’s genuine repentance on their part, we can no longer identify with them. Because when we choose to identify with a group, we automatically give it our support. Change will never come as long as we remain where we are and how we are. What are you going to do to impact change in the world?
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.
(Genesis 8:1 NIV)
The Bible often speaks of God remembering people or things. This doesn’t mean that God had forgotten about them because He never forgets, it means that He was concerned about them and was about to do something for them. When God remembered Noah, every living thing, and all of the animals that were with him in the ark, God did something about it. The Bible tells us that God “sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” When people remember you, it might not change anything because they’re simply recalling you to mind, but when God remembers you, it changes everything because He is about to act on your behalf. Be encouraged knowing that He’ll remember you too.
When God remembers His children, He does so with favour.
A few years ago, my father began to experience some health problems. I sensed in my spirit that it was nothing serious, but we still had to get him checked out. For someone who has never gone for regular check ups, the doctor was quite impressed with my dad’s test results and he didn’t hesitate to point it out. There was only one explanation for all of this… It had to be God! As one doctor rightfully put it, “God does the healing. I charge the fee.” I watched as my father breathed a sigh of relief that day, but most importantly, I saw him draw closer to God during the difficult time and testify of His healing touch afterwards.
I’m thankful for the healing hands of God. I’m thankful that He heals us not only physically, but in all other areas of life too – emotionally, mentally and spiritually. As one songwriter put it, there’s “Never been a heart you couldn’t heal.” But like the Psalmist, I’ve discovered that with the healing comes a great responsibility – to declare the praises of our God, “Let me live that I may praise you.” It is to the living that God entrusts this responsibility. Every day that we wake up is another opportunity to praise God for what He has done and what He will do. Let’s not go through another day without letting the world know what our great God has done for us. Let’s live for Him and point others to Him.