On whom His favor rests.
The Christmas angels sang from the Heavenlies, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
The angels give us the main purpose of Christ’s coming. That God might be glorified and men would receive the peace of God.
We often think the purpose of Christ’s coming was the salvation of man. There is no doubt that He came to satisfy the penalty of our sin that we might have salvation by faith in Him as our propitiation. But even Christ said His reason for coming was to give abundant life. Eternal life will follow, but His desire is for us to have abundant life in the here and now.
Peace is the key to this abundant life. The peace of Christ that He desires for us is to be so much in the will of God that we stop making decisions that ruin our life, to be so confident in His power to deliver us that troubles do not push away our peace, to be so consumed with His goodness that we are not upset about the unfairness of life. Christ’s peace is a pervading peace superior to any problem, attack, mistake, or the unknown. Christ wants you to have this peace.
This peace comes as a result of God’s favor resting on us. If God’s favor doesn’t rest on us, His peace will neither be in our corner. So, what is it to be favored? The angel told Mary she was highly favored.
Mary’s state of being favored is usually equated with being chosen to be the mother of God. Truly, this was a huge honor. But this blessing came with lots of responsibility. Can you imagine being Mom to the Messiah? We might think it easy since he was supernatural, but He did not perform His first miracle until He was 33 years old. Mary really wasn’t quite aware of His power. She saw Him only as a child that needed to be cared for, fed, and protected.
All Moms worry about making sure nothing happens to their babies. They don’t want to be bad Moms. But imagine how much more intense Mary would have felt being the mother of the Messiah. She would have felt the pressure of making sure he never got hurt, never got taken, always protecting Him in every way. I can only imagine how she must have felt when he got lost in the teaching of the Temple and was not with the family when they returned from Jerusalem. “I’ve lost the hope of Israel. I’ve lost the Savior of the World. What if he is hurt? What if he has been kidnapped? What if He has learned from false teachers?” Mary and Joseph could have easily been extremely stressed with the responsibility that came with this honor.
The word ‘favored’ means ‘to be made gracious.’ To be favored is not the honor of receiving some great gift from God. To be favored is to be transformed from our selfish sinful nature into our grateful, gracious nature. Mary’s favor was two-fold. It was the blessing and the responsibility of caring for the blessing forcing her to set aside her desires, wants, dreams to do what was best for her son.
Mary was already a righteous woman, but she was perfected more as the mother of Jesus. She had to learn to love better, to put his priorities ahead of her own. Later, when Jesus was an adult, she could not even get in to see her son and he did not make it happen but his calling was greater than their relationship. But through it all, she understood Christ was never a blessing for her to own, but to be nurtured.
All blessings come with a responsibility to care for that blessing. Whether it is a monetary blessing or an emotional one, the blessing must be nurtured to help it remain and prosper. The blessing of a husband or wife comes with the responsibility of becoming less selfish and more gracious and giving to ensure the health of the relationship. A new job comes with new responsibilities that require selflessness for its success because success must include pleasing the new supervisor, the new customer, the new investor, or the new staff. Every blessing comes with a responsibility that will create moments where we must choose between our selfish desires and what is best for others. The process is designed to be transformative.
A selfish person focuses on what they do not have. They get upset if you do not give them what they desire whatever that may be. If you don’t act the way they want, react, respond, do, feel, dress, the way they desire, they are disgruntled and fully focused on what they don’t have and what you haven’t done for them.
But a gracious person is focused on what God has already done for them. Rather than being bitter for what they don’t have, they are joyful for what God has already given. We are born in a sinful nature and God favors us with the transformational process of blessings attached to responsibilities to care for the blessings.
To be favored is to be entered into the process of transformation, not receiving gifts, honor, or status.
For us to have the peace of Christ, this favor must rest on us. It must remain on us. This means we must accept this process. When we want the blessing, but reject the responsibility of caring for the blessing, then His favor does not rest on us. It may visit, but it doesn’t remain. A peace that remains comes from acceptance of this transformative process. We are grateful for what we have, trust God uses the responsibility to shake our selfishness and pour into us His graciousness.
God is gracious. He is giving. He gives to us when we don’t deserve it. When this sinks in, it creates gratefulness within us for what He has done. Out of our gratefulness, we want to honor Him. To honor Him, He calls us to be gracious just as He is gracious to us. So we begin to give to people who don’t deserve the blessings we give. We give to our friends, neighbors, children, spouses, exes, and even our enemies whether they deserve it or not. We become gracious.
The Bible says we are saved by grace. It is the power of receiving extreme kindness unmerited that draws us to the Lord for salvation. When that graciousness is working through us, it draws people to us and to God. Our relationships improve and others are brought nearer to God because of our actions. We become a gift just as Jesus was a gift.
How do you respond to the process of being blessed with the responsibility to care for that blessing? If you want the good thing, but don’t want to care for it so that it continues, but want to waste it on selfish desire, then you are pushing the favor of God out of your life. But if you can accept the responsibility that requires separation from the natural selfishness in us to a graciousness that puts others first, then the blessing will remain in your life and you will become an even greater blessing to those around you.
Prayer: Lord, help me accept the moments I need to set aside my selfishness to foster the goodness from that blessing. And let me become less selfish and more gracious. Let your favor and your peace rest on me.