Does God Show Favoritism? Love is Grace

Genesis 6:8

What is favoritism? Favoritism is defined as having the disposition to favor someone while neglecting others that have equal claims, or the practice of giving unfair preferential treatment to one person or group at the expense of another. One may ask: does God show favoritism? And if God does, if you take the definition above at face value, then you may say that God is unfair or unjust.

There are instances of favoritism in the Bible:

In Genesis 29:30, Jacob showed favoritism as he loved Rachel more than Leah. Leah became jealous of her sister and sought to earn Jacob’s love by bearing him children when Rachel could not. In Genesis 37:3, Israel loved Joseph more than his other sons. As a result, his brothers were jealous and conspired to kill Joseph. They stripped him of his clothing and sold him into slavery. The Bible shows that favoritism can destroy families.

Then, revisiting the previous question: does God show favoritism?

Genesis 6:8 – “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

Does favor = favoritism?

Romans 2:11 – Two different translations below:

– In ESV: “For God shows no partiality.”

– In NIV: “For God does not show favoritism.”

The Bible is clear that God does not show favoritism. But God does have favorites and finds favor in people like Noah. What then, is favor? God’s favor is the overgenerous special love that a person does not deserve.

Examples of people in the Bible finding favor in God’s eyes:

Genesis 6:8 – “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

Genesis 19:19 – “Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life.” Lot

Exodus 3:21 – “And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, and when you go, you shall not go empty.”

Exodus 33:12 – “Moses said to the Lord, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’

Luke 1:30 – “And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”

Above, we see that many in the Bible had God’s favor including Noah, Moses, Mary, Lot, and the Israelites. However, although Noah, Moses, and Mary were all noble and righteous and lived Godly lives, the same cannot be said about the Israelites or Lot. Did Lot or the Israelites deserve God’s favor? No. There are no qualifications from Lot or the complaining Israelites that earned God’s favor. Yet they still receive God’s favor. Does this mean that God is unjust? No, because we receive God’s overgenerous love as grace. God’s favor is the overgenerous special love that a person does not deserve.

Take for example the story of the prodigal son. (You can choose to summarize this or skip it altogether) A father has two sons. However, his second son demands to get his inheritance before his father passes. Once given, he takes the money and squanders his inheritance in a foreign land and returns home with nothing. His father still welcomes him home, forgives him, and celebrates his return with a ring, robe, and a feast. His first son does not share in his father’s joy and instead complains that instead, he who stayed and served with his father should be celebrated.

This story demonstrates differences in perspectives when it comes to favoritism vs. grace. The first son, having done more, feels like he deserves more and may see that his father is demonstrating favoritism towards the second son. However, from the perspective of the second son, he may feel like he deserves nothing, and yet still receives. This is grace.

Isaiah 66:2 – “All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”

We are God’s favorite. We are special to Him. Like a child that feels good and special when he feels that he is favored by his parents, we can also feel this way by having confidence in God’s love for us. There may be some who conclude that “we are unqualified to be loved” or “don’t deserve to be loved” which is a sad way to think and will lead us to be in constant stress and anxiety trying to earn and find favor with God. However, if we change the way we think to “though we are unqualified, there is a God that loves us,” that will change the way we live and the relationship we have with people around us.

Richard’s Reflection:

I really enjoyed this week’s message. I try often to earn God’s love in some way by doing good works and more times than not, I fall short of my own goals and expectations. I am constantly reminded of my own shortcomings and often think that I am undeserving of God’s love, but this week’s message has been a good reminder and reassurance that I am both seen and loved by God. Knowing that I am God’s favorite has given me the peace to move forward and trust in His purpose in my life.

Reflection Questions:

Can you share a time that you received God’s favor?

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