The Bible is filled with stories of this reality!
Getting “right with God” is a wonderful thing – the New Testament calls it “justification” – it isn’t earned (it can’t be), it is graciously given to the undeserving. But the impact of being made “right with God” through faith in Jesus Christ our Savior bleeds over (and influences) EVERYTHING! It pops up in a multitude of ways in our lives! Ingratitude is out! And a life of thankfulness and appreciation for “God’s favor” takes its place!
But that’s not all… the collateral impact of “favor with God” is often experienced as “favor with man!” Joseph enjoyed it! Daniel experienced it! And many in the ancient Church experienced it (despite persecution)! The Bible says, “Day by day they attended the temple together, breaking bread in their homes, receiving their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.” (Acts 2:46-47) But the prime example for us is our Savior as a young man. The Bible says of Him, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man!” (Luke 2:52)
What prompted this reflection you ask? Well in my Bible reading today, during my time of “coffee with the Lord,” I read these words about Ezra, an exile in Babylon who lived out his faith in a pagan, adversarial environment: He felt led to return to Jerusalem with other exiled Jews to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed in Jerusalem. God performed a miracle of “favor” – “favor with God and man” – Darius, the pagan king allowed him to return, with other exiled Jews, and provided everything needed to accomplish the task! Ezra responded with thanksgiving! He said, “Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who made the [pagan] king want to beautify the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem! And praise Him for demonstrating such unfailing love to me by honoring me before the king, his council, and all his mighty nobles! I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord was upon me!” (Ezra 7:27-28 NLT)
I gotta tell you… I want to live in such a way that I enjoy “the favor of God and man!’ This Christmas season, I’m reminded of the message of the angelic host at the first Christmas… “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people! Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord… Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom He is well pleased!” (Luke 2:10-14) Oh the possibility of “favor with God and man!” Praise the Lord!