Monday 18 November 2013


It’s great to experience God’s unmerited favour. But we must not stop there. There are other ways to gain His favour.

As believers, have we come to a point in our faith walk when we say to ourselves, “Thank you God for taking me as I am,” and then happily go on our way? After all, as some teachers say, believers always enjoy God’s unmerited favour—grace beyond measure—whatever we do or don't do. 

If that is so, do we need to improve ourselves in areas such as self-discipline and character? **  

Is there a need to strive for excellence? Does it mean we just relax and enjoy His unmerited favour as “our plane has already been set on autopilot”?

While it is true that God shows us unmerited favour, we should not dismiss the importance of personal responsibility in our lives.


Though we don’t earn a place in heaven though good works (Ephesians 2:8-9), what we do with our lives after conversion matters a lot. How we live out our lives determines whether we receive God’s special favour or not.

Here are some instances when we touch God’s heart and gain His “merited favour”.

“Jesus says, Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him”’(John 14:21).
It is clear that, when we obey God, we experience His love and special favour. How wonderful it is when God manifests Himself to us—when His reality leaves little or no room for doubt.

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
When we thirst for God as much as a deer pants for streams of water (Psalm 42:1), we will experience an infilling that will quench our heart’s deepest desires.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

A broken and contrite heart is one with deep remorse for sin and a genuine desire to turn away from sin and follow God’s ways. It sees the wrongdoing as a violation of God’s law (Psalm 51:4) and does not try to rationalise it away. It recognises the fact that God knows our true motives and intents. He knows everything, including how sincere we are about change (Psalm 51:6).

A broken, contrite heart and true repentance enable us to continue enjoying God’s unbroken fellowship and favour in our lives. More on true repentance:

“And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8).

The prayers of saints that ascend to heaven are collected in bowls. Obviously, if we pray a lot, our bowls will be full and may even overflow. Thus, when we pray, it is credited to our account in heaven.

Similarly, Cornelius, the Roman centurion, who feared God, gave alms and prayed constantly, received God’s special favour. He and his household were saved after Peter preached the Good News to them.

It is clear that everyone who gets to heaven will get different measures of rewards according to their good works.

"Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds” (Revelation 22:12).

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Good works won’t save us but they determine the quantum of our rewards in the hereafter.



We can choose to know Him from afar or know Him intimately (James 4:8).

Many among the crowd who trailed Jesus did so because they wanted blessings and healing. But the disciples were different in that they received special favour. Apart from enjoying the close company and guidance of the Master, they had the privilege of knowing the full meaning behind the parables.

Of the twelve disciples, only threePeter, James and Johnwere chosen to catch a glimpse of glory when Jesus was transfigured. And of the three, only John had the privilege to lie close to Jesus’ breast. Peter and James may have excelled in many other qualities compared to John. But the latter excelled in love and intimacy with the Master.

We can be like Moses who knew God’s ways; or we can be like the Israelites who knew God’s acts (Exodus 33:13, Psalm 103: 7).

Are we easily satisfied? Or spiritual hunger impels us to want more?

Well, we all have a choice. Are we merely satisfied with His unmerited favour alone? Or we think there is something much more that God has in store for us. And that can only be attained when we die to self, seek to know His ways and strive for excellence (John 12:24, Philippians 3:10, 13-14).

When we make the effort, we gain God’s special favournot by default but by merit.

As believers, we have to play our part. Work out our salvation with fear and trembling. And then God will work out His will in our lives (Philippians 2:12-13, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

**      It does not mean we can really change ourselves for the better. It’s the Word which transforms us; it’s Holy Spirit who changes us (Romans 12:1-2, 2 Corinthians 3:18).


How do we measure progress in our spiritual journey? Have we lived up to our full potential?
In our eagerness to perform, have we lost out in that which is most essential?

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