It sounds strange, but sometimes finding favor with God makes life tough. When Gabriel informed Mary she would give birth to the Son of God, many thoughts ran through her mind, not the least of which was how she, a virgin, could conceive.
What’s more, Mary knew the social and biblical fallout that occurs for a pregnant woman without a husband. How could she possibly explain that her pregnancy was an act of God and not an act of passion? Finding favor with God meant she faced disfavor from people. Maybe finding favor with God isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
Christmas usually causes us to marvel at the virgin conception—and at the love of our God who would become Man so that He could die for our sins.
But there’s another part of the Christmas story that amazes me just as much. It comes from this amazing young woman.
Mary Found Favor with God
Mary knew that her pregnancy, while bringing joy to the world, could have the opposite effect on her future:
When Joseph, her fiancé, discovered her pregnancy, he could have had her stoned under the Old Testament Law.
Such a woman often got ostracized from her own community and family.
At best, she faced living as a single parent for life.
In light of all these very real possibilities, she could have told God:
Thanks, but no thanks, God. I didn’t ask for this “favor.” It’s more than I can deal with.
My family and friends will renounce me. What’s worse, I will lose Joseph.
Lord, don’t I have the right to choose about my life?
Remarkably, she said none of these. Her response was one of total obedience and submission to the will of God:
I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said. —Luke 1:38
(Photo: Andreas F. Borchert GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons)
What an extraordinary response! In these few words we understand:
She considered favor with God a blessing instead of a burden.
She placed her complete trust in the Father who was able to shelter, feed, comfort and provide if all others would abandon her.
Finding Favor with God
Gabriel’s announcement to Mary proclaimed her a “favored one” (Luke 1:28). The original Greek term comes from a verb that means, “filled with grace.”
Significantly, this same verb appears in only one other place in the New Testament:
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. —Ephesians 1:5–6
The words “freely bestowed” come from the same verb as “favored one.” In both cases, God gave grace through His choice and election—not through the righteousness of the recipient. Also in both cases, what was the means of God’s favor?
Because of Jesus, Mary was highly favored.
Because of Jesus, you are highly favored.
God’s Favor as Your Motivation
In the same way Mary responded to God’s favor with trust—in spite of the fact that obedience would make life tough—so we can do the same.
When family members ostracize us because of our convictions.