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Devotion for February 10, 2008

Devotions

Jean Racine, a French playwright living in the days of Louis XIV, understood what “royal favor” was all about. Having written two works praise-worthy of the king, Racine was honored by a widely sought-after invitation to the palace. His great reward: he would watch Louis XIV wake up in the morning. This high honor was usually only enjoyed by the bluebloods of France.

Favor is something we seek as humans. We want people to like and respect us. We equate favor with influence. If we have favor in our workplace, in our community, and in our government, we might be able to implement our agenda. The Bible, however, is clear on the nature of “human favor.” Seeking it becomes a corrupt human ambition: look no further than examples like King Saul in the Old Testament and Pontius Pilate in the New Testament. In today’s reading, we see how God can grant and use human favor for His purposes.

Clearly, Pharaoh’s favor wasn’t something that Moses had sought. In fact, a sure way to lose favor was Moses’ habit of showing up every other week before Pharaoh’s court to announce impending disaster. Moses’ only goal was to obey God. He didn’t curry favor with court officials. He never made empty campaign promises. He spoke the truth, acted in God’s stead, and not surprisingly, grew to be highly regarded among the Egyptians. They were forced to admit his spiritual authority and power.

The favor Moses gained was never something he sought intentionally, and it didn’t serve simply to enhance his personal reputation. Moses was granted favor in the sight of the Egyptians (and presumably in the eyes of Hebrews) as a way to generate their support of his leadership.

The Hebrew people were also granted favor. When they fled after the final plague, God commanded them to ask their Egyptian neighbors to send them off with farewell gifts of gold and silver, and these gifts were later used in the construction of the tabernacle (cf. Exodus 35).

Apply the Word

We have the example of Jesus to remind us that many times, God doesn’t grant us favor with others. Jesus Himself was “despised and rejected by men” (Isa. 53:3). In your various places of influence, has God granted your favor? Do people seem to respect and invite your opinion? Use this favor for God’s kingdom purposes. Maybe, however, you’re experiencing criticism and disdain for being a Christian. Remember the words of 1 Peter 4:13: “Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ.”

BY Jennifer Michel

Jen Pollock Michel is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Her first book, Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, is published by InterVarsity Press. Jen earned her BA in French from Wheaton College and her MA in Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and five children, and serves on staff at Grace Toronto Church.

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