Increasing in favor

Jesus of Nazareth, at twelve years of age, was found by His parents in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions (Luke 2:46). Jesus was a true human, sinless from conception. Although He had eternally existed, omniscient and omnipotent, He did not of His own choice employ divine prerogatives during His time here on earth. He was, however, filled without measure with the Holy Spirit; He did only that which was commanded by the Father.

All that Jesus knew, He had learned from observation of life and from the Old Testament. He was already, at twelve years of age, no doubt the most knowledgeable human in all history. That next period of His life, twelve to thirty, Dr. Luke characterizes: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man” (v. 52). All four character qualities were already present; all four continued to increase as He fully matured. Our lives ought similarly to increase persistently in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and fellowmen.

Wisdom is more than just information; it is using information skillfully. Solomon recommended true wisdom (Prov 1:1-7). Wisdom accepts instruction. Wisdom understands words properly. Wisdom profits from comparisons and from wise sayings. Wisdom is acting aright, speaking and acting according to principles taught in Scripture, learned by experience, and applied by sound logic. We need divine wisdom such that every word we speak is both true and acceptable in God’s ears. We need to learn to live as Jesus would live, ‘practicing the presence’ of Jesus, doing only that which glorifies the Father.

Jesus grew physically from 12 to 30. More important is that which is the real stature of a man, his walk of integrity. Recent evaluations of past presidents judged them foremost on the basis of personal and political integrity. Some who had a low public approval rating at the time have later been honored for their stature of total dedication to the truth even at the cost of popularity or of personal loss, including such as Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, George W. H. Bush. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Our absolute loyalty to truth should be not only persistent but increasingly evident.

Every moment of every day, Jesus increased in favor with God, as should we. We don’t need to “check in” concerning each action; there are times when the Spirit of God will inform us that what we have done was not fully honoring to Him. Some characterize Jesus’ life as fully obedient to the law. It was much more than that. Jesus declared that He did the Father’s will. The law is but a partial expression of what God expects. We endeavor to keep faithfully all that the Scripture assigns to this dispensation, but even greater, we want to learn specifically just what pleases or displeases God in every detail of our lives.

Jesus enjoyed public approval. People of the day recognized that Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38; see Gal 6:10). We as believers are instructed to seek peace with all men (Heb 12:14). We should endeavor to be of benefit to all we contact. We do not seek to be approved by all men; Jesus was not. Yet none could charge Him with sin. His being in favor with God kept him in favor with decent men. He was not a troublemaker. He did not lead riots. He did not promote insurrection. Jesus is really the only “hero” after whom we try to pattern our lives. ‘More like the Master I would ever be.’

Our concern about approval in these four areas is not that we might qualify for heaven. We already have redemption. Beyond that, we anticipate heavenly rewards. Perhaps our ability to appreciate the glories of eternal life will be greater, that is, a greater capacity to enjoy all that surrounds us in heaven. Our place of appointed service will be a result of our present dedication. Jesus told of one being set over ten cities and one over five cities (Luke 19:17, 19). All we do now lays up treasure in heaven.

JP: From Warren Vanhetloo in Cogitations – an email ministry of Dr. Warren Vanhetloo, a retired theology professor who served 43 years, at Central Baptist Seminary and Calvary Baptist Seminary, presently living in Holland MI.

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