Finding Favor or Raising Cain?

10:03 AMHeather

First of all, let me say how blessed I am by those of you who have shared with me how God is speaking to you through this blog.  I really appreciate your messages and comments--I love hearing how God weaves His revelations among the body, letting each of us know Him more.  

So, yesterday we chatted about God's favor even in the clefts of the rock--how His glory is revealed and being poured out, even when we cannot begin to see any light in our darknesses.  That is big stuff, bloggy friends.  Because I don't know about you, but there have been many times in my life when I find myself asking, "Are you there, God?!"  This whole concept of favor as the first introduction to grace within the Bible is just blowing my mind.  So, after tackling the only two Scripture referenced in my Wycliffe Bible dictionary for favor, I was hungry for more.  I mean, His glory passing over us?  Yes, please.  Give me more!

So, I turned to another favorite resource--www.Biblegateway.com.  I use this website every time I blog to cut and paste in the Scripture.  You can search a specific passage or do a keyword search--in about a jillion translations.  Very handy.  So, I jumped in and looked up "favor" in my favorite NIV translation.   I was not surprised to find many verses with the word favor, and it makes sense to me to continue to tackle this idea of favor chronologically verse by verse, starting in Genesis.   I just want to fully understand the context of "favor"--as it seems to be a Biblical prerequisite to grace.  

Side note--I have long been asking for God to make me hungry for His word, to fill me with just an eagerness to dive in.  Funny that as I intentionally ask Him to open my eyes to His favor, I am realizing that this enthusiasm I have to explore grace and all it's variations--God is answering that other prayer!  He's just kinda sweet that way.

Back on topic...so the first use of favor I found was in Genesis 4.  It took me a minute to realize the significance of that reference.  Adam and Eve's fall to sin and exile from the garden comes in Genesis 3.  No need for favor to be found--or grace to be given--before the fall.  Adam and Eve were in perfect fellowship with the Lord before that.  But, you see--after the fall, God would indeed need to extend "umerited favor as from a superior to an inferior" (Wycliffe Bible dictionary).   This makes me think about the passage in the New Testament that says that those who have been forgiven of much tend to love much.   

The truth of it is that every one of us who is a Christ follower is in a daily wrestling match between our sin nature--our human flesh--and the nature of the Spirit.  Everyone of us is struggling day by day, and sometimes minute by minute, to choose humble obedience to God's narrow way over the wide path of our natural inclinations.  We all have a great need for God's favor.  We all require His grace.  This speaks to my guilty-tripping nature.  How about instead of beating myself up when I mess up that I choose to see an opportunity for God to pour out favor and grace?  Not that should seek such opportunities.  But, when it happens and I agree with God about my failures, I learn to release it and celebrate the favor He shows?

On to that Genesis 4:4-5 passage.  Cain and Abel are offering their sacrifices to God, and we see that the Lord looked with favor on Abel's offering, but not on Cain.  To me, verse 7 essentially says that if we do what is right, we will find favor.  If we don't do what is right, we don't find favor.  

 7 If you do what is right, will you not
be accepted? But if you do not do what is 
right, sin is crouching at your door; 
it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” 

That's what happened to Cain and Abel.  Cain succumbed to the sin of disobeying God when offering sacrifices and he did NOT find favor with God.  Cain's response to that definitely show us that missing out on God's favor is a bad place to be. 

My deductive reasoning from that story tells me that originally, favor was generally granted or found according to deeds.  One thing I have noticed from Wycliffe's definitions of grace is that the first word noted is hen (again--that overscore on the e that I can't type) which means "favor."  The second word noted is hesed--and that is a doozy!  Can't wait to explore that one.  That is translated like lovingkindness--or favor upon favor upon favor given.  The third and final word noted is finally grace.  What a progression!  From favor to lovingkindness to grace.

Glimpse of grace:  Bloggy friends, am I crazy in being excited to realize the thread of grace in the Bible--from the very beginning to the amazing Messiah?  The roots of grace are favor.  Favor is usually found--or correlated to actions, as we see in Genesis 4.  Not that a superior can't choose to just grant favor, but it is obvious that favor was first seen as something to be sought or granted.  Biblically, favor grows into lovingkindness.  The Father's heart for his children doesn't just offer favor.  But, favor upon favor upon favor.  The idea of it being umerited and unearned grows.  And finally, seeing that his children needed more, the Father pours out grace.  And his name was Jesus.  In our own lives, may we ask for eyes to begin to see His favor, the very root of grace.  If I have learned anything this week, it's this.  The more I recognize His favor in my day--be it that my children got up happily or that the radio station played just the song I needed--the more I am able to pour out favor to those around me.  How in the world will that explode as I learn about how his favor moves to lovingkindness to grace?  May I be forever changed--not just in actions, but in motivations and thoughts and the very core of it all--in my heart.  I don't know about you, but I don't just want to find God's favor.  I want his lovingkindness.  I need His grace.  And I need all three of those things to overflow out of me.  I want to be an "Abel" to those around me, rather than a Cain.

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