Sunday, September 27, 2009

Whose Favor Matters*

"... Esther won the favor of everybody who saw her". Esther 2:15

Favor, the preferential treatment or approval from others, is something that humans all long to have. Regardless of personality differences, every person aspire to have the approval of someone for various reasons. It could be of an employer, neighbor, relative, acquaintance, classmate, churchmate or even an enemy. There are two questions that are worth asking regarding this matter: 1) Is favor free? 2) Who gets it?

It appears that favor is a prize that is bestowed to someone who deserves it. How one deserves favor is totally dependent on the one who gives the favor. The requirements or criteria are completely under the control of the giver. It hangs above the head of everyone and it remains suspended until the one who holds it decides to grant it. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one could say that favor rests in the heart of the giver. A number of stories are based around this same basic idea. Cinderella won the favor of the prince but how much effort did she invest to gain such profit?
Often times people work hard to gain favor. On the other hand, favor that has been previously granted can be revoked without prior notice. We see it all the time in all sorts of relationships, like in marriages ending in divorce and friendships in break-ups. Couples who are so in love see each others characters and then decide to be with each other all the time. They even go to the extent of spending a lot of money in order for them to celebrate a promise that they give to each other (called wedding). This promise basically says, "You will have my favor above anyone else no matter what!" Very touching! However, there is one problem. People change and often the original basis of approval is gone. This commodity called favor is very volatile. It dissipates in the air and the promise is nullified and forgotten. All too painful.

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

Seeking the approval of men seems like a difficult job and yet there is no assurance of keeping that favor. God's favor is based on His character not ours. He loves us because He is love. To rely on that love is to please Him and to please Him is obey Him. Esther could not have done anything to win the favor of King Xerxes and the people of Persia. If he was looking for a trophy wife, Queen Vashti was The beauty Queen! Esther, however, choose to win the favor of God. She was not afraid of the consequences to break the King's orders in favor of doing what is right. She said, "If I die, then I die." In the end, everything falls into place according to God's good plans for her and her people.

A life that is focussed on chasing the aproval of men is a stressful life. A life that seeks to win the favor of God is a life worth living.
*This is adapted from an older post in my other blog - Helen's blog.

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