The title of Bishop T. D. Jakes’ phenomenal message series “Favor Ain’t Fair” is often used by individuals who have attained some type of benefit that either they didn’t deserve or weren’t expected to receive. I have used this statement on several occasions myself. However, I am concerned that this phrase has become a colloquialism that has been used to manipulate others into thinking that God did something significant for them when they have actually received this object or opportunity through unethical means. I am even more concerned that some have become somewhat impolite, in that they have begun to demand that others show them preferential treatment. Maybe not in word, but definitely in attitude.
While favor, in the biblical sense, does refer to preferential treatment, it never requires that someone releases to another what belongs to them against their own conscience or will. This attitude has nothing to do with the operation of favor. It is, instead, an attitude of entitlement. Entitlement presupposes that a person has a right to someone’s person, property or time. The entitlement attitude plagues many facets of our society, and there is a tendency to use the concept of favor to spiritualize this attitude.
So let’s talk about what favor entails and what differentiates favor from an attitude of entitlement.
- Favor is based on God’s timing. Psalms 102:13 indicates that there is a set time for favor to show up. Therefore, we can not summon favor at will. We must wait on the timing of the Lord. Entitlement tends to demand (or at least expect) that something happens within the timetable of the recipient.
- If favor comes from man then it is a loan, but if it comes from God it is free and clear. Psalms 112:5 says that a good man shows favor and he lends. A person who has an expectancy for a human being to show them favor, must understand that human favor always comes with a price tag. The second part of that verse insist that the one who shows favor will guide their affairs with decisiveness. In other words, when a human shows favor there is always the “what’s in it for me” factor to contend with. If favor comes from God, he will cause people to give to us, not loan to us (Psalms 45:12). Additionally, just because you were victimized by a human being, doesn’t mean that you have the right to demand that God show you favor in order to right that person’s wrong. If God extends favor it’s because he chooses to (Exodus 33:19).
- Favor will only go as far as God’s word. In Psalms 119:58 David asked God to show him favor according to His Word. If God didn’t promise it, He is not obligated to perform it. Some believers are bitter because they feel that God has failed to respond to their requests, but God’s willingness to answer us is diminished when we expect Him to go beyond His Word. It is also diminished when we have the attitude of entitlement that has no regard for morality, ethics or the sovereignty of God. James 4:1-3 teaches that we don’t receive anything when we ask God based upon our own desires instead of His desires.
- Favor is obtained by wisdom, not obligated because of our work. In Proverbs 8:35 we hear a conversation between Wisdom and the young Solomon. Wisdom explains that if she is sought out, she brings favor with her. Proverbs 18:22 further indicates that favor is obtained of God. In both of the above scriptures favor is accompanied by a feminine nature. Entitlement is aggressive and masculine in nature and only brings with it resentment. Not that masculinity is wrong but the aggression is what distances favor from the one expecting, because that attitude breeds pride. Both James and Peter makes it clear that God distances himself from the prideful (James 4:6; I Peter 5:5). David explains to young Solomon that God not only distances himself from the prideful, but he also hates the very appearance of it (Proverbs 6:16-17). Just because you work hard, doesn’t mean that anyone owes you anything beyond what you earn contractually, not even God. For instance, just because you graduated from a reputable institution with honors, it doesn’t mean that anyone owes you a job. The agreement with the institution was to provide you with a degree once you completed a period of study with passing grades. Nowhere in that contract was it guaranteed that you would get a job making $60,000.00 right out of college.
As we can see, favor is not based upon our timing, our demands, our will, our hard work or our expectation. Those are all elements that relate to an attitude of entitlement. If we want favor we need to seek God, study His Word, seek out His wisdom, stay humble and wait on God’s timing. If we get in a hurry and lay our expectations before mankind, we may get favor but we will quickly understand that not only is it true that Favor Ain’t Fair, but an even greater truth is that Favor Ain’t Always Free.