Some of you are now looking at your screen sideways with one eye partially squinted, as if to say “what in the world is she talking about.” Some probably uttered a quick “yikes, she can’t be talking to me.”
Some of you may have had a fleeting thought of your mom or aunt, or some sweet little lady in the church. You know the one. She attended every Sunday morning, Sunday evening and back again on Wednesday. She is the one who wears her little navy blue, sailor dress with white pumps and white beads (but never after Labor Day). She is the one who cooks for the church luncheon and cleans up afterward. She teaches your daughter’s Sunday school class. “She” does it all, and “she” does it well. But, is “she” you?
Trust me, when I wrote that salutation, I was well aware that I may not be writing to “she.” I was well aware that I may be addressing some Christian ladies who have faced far more controversial issues in their lifestyle than “she” ever thought about. Issues that some of you have never even spoken about to your sisters in Christ; after all, what would “she” think if “she” knew?
Whoever you are, or whatever your walk has been in the past, your response to the greeting above was probably the same response that Mary had when the angel, Gabriel, said those words to her.
Luke 1:28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Luke 1:29 – And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. (KJV)
Given the fact that I am not “she,” I find it very intriguing that Mary had this response to Gabriel’s words. After all, Mary was perfect wasn’t she? Mary had to have been the ultimate “she” right?
Wrong. Mary was a virgin, and yes, God needed a virgin, but do you think they were as difficult to find in Mary’s day as they are now? I don’t think so. So, what was it about Mary that made Gabriel greet her in this manner and what was it about Mary that made her respond with such fear and confusion to Gabriel’s greeting?
I’ll start with Mary’s response. If Mary had been perfect, she would not have been surprised by Gabriel’s greeting. She would simply have said “Hello.” Or “Yes, that’s me, the highly favored one, how can I help you?”
Since there isn’t much about Mary in the Bible, I studied commentaries about her background and learned that the people of Nazareth were not considered very highly by the Jews.
Nazareth was not a town rich in religious tradition and was, as a matter of fact, a place where Gentiles intermingled with the Jews. That made the people of Nazareth the “under dogs” of the Jewish society.
Mary would have been one of those poor hopeless under-dogs. In other words, she grew up in the hood. And, since we already know that Jesus was the only person without sin, Mary was not without sin.
Mary was the same as you and I; probably without some of the mistakes and consequences we’ve faced (or she would have been stoned to death) but nevertheless, Mary was you. She was me. She was simply, a believer.
So, let’s look again at the greeting.
Luke 1:28 – The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (NIV)
The Greek word charitoo translated to “highly favored” in this famous greeting to Mary, is found one other time in the New Testament.
Ephesians 1:6 – To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (KJV)
Here, charitoo is translated into “hath made us accepted.”
I said, “Hath made us accepted!”
Now, who was this greeting in Ephesians written to?
Eph 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: (KJV)
The Faithful in Christ Jesus! In both scriptures, it was God who carried out the action. It was He who favored her and it is He who favors us. It is He who hath made us, all believers, accepted.
So, how did she find God’s Favor? How does anyone find favor? More importantly, how do I find favor?
Well, first, you have to face the fact that you’ve been lied to. From the time you were born, although unintentionally, someone taught you lies about yourself that left you struggling and striving to earn someone’s favor; to be the best; to be perfect. Maybe your parents told you that you were an accident, or maybe they didn’t always have much time for you. Maybe you could never do enough to please your mom – you weren’t the favorite. Then your teacher in elementary school passed you up way too many times when you raised your hand to answer her questions – you weren’t the favorite. Or maybe, like Mary, you grew up in the hood, on the wrong side of the tracks, and your peers looked down on you – again, you weren’t the favorite.
By the time you got to high school, you were already doing things to try to become the favorite, right? In college, maybe you competed, struggled, crashed, burned and started all over again – trying to be the favorite.
Now you have matured beyond those years of struggling to be the best. Then why the credit card dept? Why the best piece of real estate in the best neighborhood? Why the luxury car? Why the breast enhancements? Why are you working two jobs to pay for it all? Why do you find it so difficult to say no, when someone asks you to do something you really don’t have time to do?
It’s about being someone’s favorite. It’s about being a number one top hit! It’s about being “She.”
I want you to know that your pain is a billion dollar industry. Look at all the products and advertisements out there that are based on self promotion; things that make you feel better about yourself. Then, there are the self-help books and talk shows that make millions helping you get over yourself.
I pointed out earlier that Mary didn’t earn the title highly favored. I also pointed out that neither did you nor I, but the title is ours. Later, in reading the next few verses (Luke 1:30) I became a little concerned that perhaps she did earn it.
Luke 1:30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. NIV
Now, to me the word found was a little disconcerting. Perhaps she was one of those ladies that had the high status, the smooth skin and hair, the composure of Queen Elizabeth. (You know the type. They are wrinkle free from top to bottom. They are always the favorite.) So my question now is, how did the Virgin Mary find God’s favor? Where did she go? What did the she do?
I could not find the answer! But, I found this. The context is seeking first, the Kingdom of God:
Luke 12:37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
I believe the Virgin Mary found God’s favor, His charitoo, His acceptance, because she simply looked in His direction. As I said, there is little written about Mary and nothing that clearly states my theory. But the scripture in Luke 12 tells us how God favors those who He finds watching. Seeking.
Seek God and you will find God’s favor. After all, how do you find the best piece of real estate in the best neighborhood? How do you find the perfect luxury car? How do you find the right company to help you consolidate your credit card debt? You look!
Why so much talk about Mary. We want to bear God’s fruit in our lives. And so many women are struggling, wondering what their purpose, their ministry is. More so, many Christian women know they are called to bear fruit in service to God, but they feel unworthy. They aren’t the “fav.” They are not “She.”
But, now we know better. We know how to find God’s favor. We are His “fav.” And no other “fav” is required.
So, I will close with this question. How many of you feel like you are fulfilling your God given purpose?
According to God’s word we are all called to bear fruit and we are called to perfection. True perfection simply means whole or complete.
Knowing that, are you living the life of a whole and complete being and bearing fruit?
If you answer honestly, your answer is most likely, “No.”
Therefore, my next question is, how much time do you spend listening to His voice in order to become that whole, perfect being, who bears fruit for the Kingdom of God? How much time do you spend seeking or watching?
The answer to your incomplete state of being is this. Get up every morning and look Him right in the face and say “good morning Father God!” That is where you will find God’s favor. That is where you will become complete. And that is where you will become equipped to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.