Who has not used these four words? Everyone understands them. It is the voice of humility. We must humble ourselves in order to ask for a favor. It is the other side of grace. Do me a favor. Grace is not something deserved, earned, or merited. It is a favor. The Psalmist says it this way: “For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favor unto them” (Ps. 44:3). There are different ways to look at this word “favor.” Some translations say “thou favored them.” This is true, but please, don’t reduce grace to being the “teacher’s pet.” Favor held in the wrong hands, is a gold coin which quickly turns to lead. To think that “I am favored” is not the same as thinking that God has done for me a great and unmerited favor. This is not “hair-splitting,” it is dividing the proud from the humble. The Syro-Phoenician woman understood this grace. She understood that being the object of favor is not what most understand as being “picked,” “chosen,” or favored over others. Unless it is held in a humble hand, this cup of milk will curdle. One spirit leads to life and the other to death.
“Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” Please, you do me a favor? It is often here that the theologians weigh in. “We do not even have to ask for grace,” they say. It is as if the “asking” preempts the sovereignty of God or something. It is true that we receive grace everyday without asking. We do not have to ask for grace. But when it comes to salvation, when it comes to the forgiveness of sins, when it comes to finding the Prodigal’s pardon, God is just waiting for you. He is waiting as a Father waits for the Prodigal. The Elder son never left home but he was more sour buttermilk. He did not appreciate or understand grace. How do you explain grace? It is a favor. Yes, He did me a big favor.