The Recipients of Our Favor

Favor.  It’s a small word with an over-sized meaning.  Basically, it means ‘special consideration.’  When my daughter, who was flying with my wife and me, ended up in Group 5 and we were in Group 3 for boarding, we brought her with us when they called for Group 3 and asked the gate attendant if she could board with us since she was family.  He said ‘sure.’  Favor.  She wasn’t in Group 3 and therefore technically was not welcome but because the decision-maker could understand the convenience of boarding as a family and presumably doing so would not rock the boat too much, he gave my daughter special consideration.  She didn’t necessarily deserve to board early but the rules were bent to accommodate her situation.  Favor.

A local church owns a cemetery on their grounds and their by-laws state that only members are allowed to be buried in this cemetery.  But when we told them there was a family in the community with no money whose young son would die soon from a rare medical condition, they made an exception for him.  They decided that the circumstance warranted special favor which in this case meant an exemption from the normal rule.

Favor comes in many shapes and sizes.  Affirmative action is a form of favor, deferring to an unjust history to justify what would otherwise appear to be unfair advantage to some.   Countries enjoy ‘favored nation’ status by the U.S. meaning that because of some historic precedent, alliance, or resource they provide, we give them greater access to our trade, equipment, and/or diplomatic access not afforded to the rest.   Among family members, you may have your ‘favor’-ites, slipping them extra money or inviting them over a little more often than others.  You may have your favorite waiter who you always ask for and tip generously.

Favor can be extended to family members, friends, those we feel are being treated unjustly, those we think deserve a break, or maybe those from whom we are looking to get favor in the future.   We may like them, we may revere them, we may pity them, or we may see potential in them.  Favor is that grease we apply at our discretion to make the ‘system’ work more easily for some than others.

Is favor fair?  No, by definition, it is not.  But does that mean that it is inherently bad?  No.  Sometimes it is necessary.  The question is not, should we show favor or not?  There are always times when extending favor is the right thing to do.  Rather, the question is: to whom are we showing favor?  The recipients of our favor reveal our heart, our true values, our deepest aspirations.  If we show favor in order to get favor back, that is called self-seeking.  If we show favor because we think it will be helpful, that is called generosity.  If we show favor because we realize that some people need a break and they may give up or despair if they don’t get a second chance, this is called redemption.

We know we are showing God’s favor when we are certain to receive nothing back from it, when neither we nor those we love benefit.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t show favor to family and friends.  It just gives us a higher calling to shoot for if we want to be truly stellar human beings.

To whom do you show favor?  And why?

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