You may be reading the Christmas story again this season, but have you stopped to think about God’s definition of “favor”? Let’s review.

The angel arrives in front of Mary and proclaims,

“Greetings, favored one! The LORD is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salvation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:28-30 NASB).

As I pondered those verses again this morning, I suddenly thought, “I wonder if Mary could have ever imagined what being ‘favored’ would mean.”

Wouldn’t most of us think, “Oh goody! Favor! God says I’m favored. Now I’m going to meet the perfect husband, have the perfect kids, buy the mansion on the hill, wear only purple, and hobnob with the wealthy and influential people.”


No, it meant she would:

  • Be unmarried and pregnant, a most misunderstood circumstance in her community. Without God intervening to save her, Joseph could have had her stoned to death. 
  • Be called a liar. I can hear it now from the townspeople. “Oh, that’s a new one for being unmarried and pregnant. An angel came, eh? Oh, sure he did.”
  • Give birth in difficult circumstances: out of town, without your momma or a mid-wife, surrounded by strangers, and seeing strange things happening like those pesky angels showing up again. 
  • Become a young widow. I’ve wondered why God’s plan included an early death for Joseph. Why was it best for Mary to be a widow? 
  • Become convinced along with her other children that her first-born is crazy. She tries to convince Him to come home for some help. He definitely needs some R & R–He’s been working too hard and is delusional. But her pleas to help Him are rebuffed to the point that He seems to reject her.
  • See her son misunderstood, spit on, falsely accused, and nailed to a cross like the most horrible kind of criminal.
  • Stand at the foot of the cross experiencing the agonizing death of her righteous Son.

Favor? Who would possibly sign up for all that if they knew what God’s definition of favor is?

Yes, God does have an interesting definition of favor but that’s because He looks at the end results, not the journey of getting there. 

For I’m convinced Mary would have signed on the dotted line again to be God’s favored one even if she knew what it meant. For indeed she was chosen for something that Jewish girls through the centuries desired to be chosen for. Although they didn’t know what it would mean and only Mary experienced it. 

The question for us is: are we willing to sign on the dotted line for God’s own unique definition of “favor” for each of us? It may not be what we think “favor” should mean. But God always brings good out of it–but it’s His definition of “good.” 

Here’s the pen…. Ready to sign?