Luke tells us that as a young man, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). He was following in the footsteps of his mother. The angel Gabriel had assured her, “Thou hast found favour with God” (Luke 1:28-30).
What is God’s favor, and how can we find it?
The Greek word translated “favour” in both of these passages is charis (χάρις). In many other passages, it is translated as “grace,” which refers to unmerited blessings, given freely by God. Even though these blessings are given freely, we are still invited to seek them. We don’t earn the blessings, but we do have to put forth some effort to find them.
Many people in the scriptures found favour with God, including Noah (Genesis 6:8), Moses (Genesis 33:12-13), Gideon (Judges 6:16-18), and Samuel (1 Samuel 2:26). In the Book of Mormon, we read that Nephi was “highly favored of the Lord” (1 Nephi 1:1, see also 1 Nephi 3:6, Mosiah 10:13). Moroni uses the same phrase to describe the brother of Jared (Ether 1:34). Groups of people were also favored, including the Anti-Nephi-Lehies (Alma 27:30) and the sons of Helaman (Alma 56:19).
Favor with God is dependable; favor with man is capricious. Potiphar made Joseph the overseer over all of his house because he “saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand” (Genesis 39:3-4), but when Joseph was falsely accused, Potiphar turned against him immediately and had him thrown in prison (Genesis 39:19-20).
Of course, seeking for people’s favor is good and necessary, but we should be realistic in our expectations. When we’re dealing with imperfect people with limited access to information, their assessment may not be a reliable indicator of the intrinsic value of our efforts. Even the Savior, who grew in favor with man as a youth was “despised and rejected” by many (Isaiah 53:3, Mosiah 14:3).
Today I will seek for God’s favor. I will trust that I will find it when I seek it sincerely and diligently.