I have heard and considered the whole “God’s Favor” flavor for years. Truthfully, at first I considered this a smart marketing campaign of TV Evangelists to convince people to send money to God like a lottery in hopes of “hitting it big”. And maybe that was true sometimes. But, in all my candid writing, I will tell you I WAS NOT GOING TO PLAY THAT GAME! I was not going to be pulled in by some snake oil pastor, who was going to try to turn my sacred relationship with Christ into some high yield investment plan. Nor would I ignore scripture that showed riches were bad (the whole “eye of the needle” bit) and focus on my “other god” of money…….
And yet, in practice, MONEY was always my focus. Either I spent too much (more than I had – thank you credit cards!), or I frantically and miserly saved every penny while ignoring the needs of others. Looking back, the very thing I SAID I didn’t want to do, I was doing……and in a much harsher way than if I had given the money to ANYONE – even a snake oil pastor!
So my life consisted of working hard and long hours, swinging from spending way too much money or saving too much, and God sometimes was part of that. Well, when it made me feel GOOD about giving, I did it anyway. And, well, I have learned over the last few months that wasn’t very often, and especially not very substantial. And yet, ironically, I was often behind the eight ball, always a day late and a dollar short. And the cycle continued.
So, when my Pastor started preaching about God’s favor in relation to tithing, I easily reacted in my heart like a had all my life, “here we go again.” And I ignored the words, felt self-righteous and all knowing internally, and went on my way. I would hear others mention how there were tons of poor people in 3rd world countries…..were was God’s favor THERE and FOR THEM? “God’s favor”, I heard them say, “is not about money and prosperity – that’s American’s bastardization of the Bible.” And I’d internally nod and say, “Yes, God is not a stock broker”. And I was comfortable with my lot in life and continued as I had for thousands of days.
But if you’ve read my blogs before, you know it didn’t stop there. Because even though SO FAR I’ve talked about money (as, seriously, it has been the main focus of my life in many ways), God’s Favor is not JUST about money.
I mean, let’s review some basic principles:
- We talk about the “Good News” all the time, but what does that MEAN???? Pastor has taught me for maybe the first time in my life that this means Jesus came to have a RELATIONSHIP with me! Romans 8:33-39 says, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- The relationship Jesus wants is with EVERYONE! So stop thinking He is sitting there waiting for you to screw up so he can beat you or expel you or he’s waiting for you to get that suit or to clean up your life…..Jesus wants YOU because he LOVES you! Not your money, not your good actions (“good intentions?), or anything you probably have envisioned today.
- Pastor made me realize that God’s Favor is not just about money. It’s about PEACE. Jesus has been called the Prince of Peace. And that Prince was sent to earth to DIE for us so that we could have salvations and HIS PEACE. And who would say, “Hey, I don’t want God’s Favor if it means His Peace in my life!” Because, logically, do you really think Jesus would go through all He went through – even through a very painful and agonizing death – just so you could wallow in the same place you lived before you met Him? Doesn’t make much sense, huh? And, when my LOGIC started allowing those thoughts to bounce inside my thick skull, something miraculous began……Jesus’ Peace started sneaking into my life……
- And it’s funny, for me when that Peace started manifesting itself in small ways for me, other things started showing up, too. Like I don’t know – faith, love, acceptance, praise for my Lord, empathy for others…….the list goes on.
- TO BE CONTINUED…….