I’m studying in the book of Acts these days, and I am moved with gratefulness as I read how the Apostle Peter received the revelation that the Gentiles were included in God’s plan of salvation!
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.’” (Acts 10:34)
Up to this point, from the Jewish perspective (which is what we have in the beginnings of the church since the Apostles were all Jews), the good news was restricted to just the Jews. Peter prophesied on the day of Pentecost that this message would be taken all over the world (Acts 2:39), but in their minds, I firmly believe, it was to all Jewish people who were afar off.
Later Peter sat on the rooftop in Joppa, and the Spirit of God came and showed him a vision (Acts 10:9-16). He didn’t understand what it meant at first, but soon God opened his eyes to the full understanding. Jesus already planted the seed of this plan when He declared in John 10:16,
“And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
Peter was about to see the unfolding of this grand plan right before his eyes, but it took a minute (or more) for the reality to pierce the hardness of the prejudice that was set up like a fortress in his mind. It wasn’t really Peter’s fault (or any of the Jewish people for that matter) because the majority of the Old Testament taught them to live a life of consecrated separateness from all the other nations of the world. They erroneously took the chosen separateness to mean better than and superior to rather than guiding light, glorious example, and bridge to life.
But, God shows NO partiality.
Oh, thank God I am accepted, loved and included in the redemptive plan of salvation! What does that word partiality mean? The Strong’s concordance uses words like favoritism, bias, and discrimination. The Scripture says God does not have favorites, does not have a bias, nor does He discriminate; but I began to think about my ideas about God’s favor and if there might be a difference between partiality and favor. I sat down with my journal and asked God directly:
“Lord, Your word says there is no partiality with you – I want to know what the difference is between partiality and favor.”
I continued writing:
“Maybe we all have a level playing field and equal opportunity to access salvation. But favor is what you do with your salvation opportunity. Do you grasp it and embrace it? Or, do you make either no commitment or minimal commitment? Opportunity is available to all but favor is distributed as one presses in and presses through to advance in the opportunity. In other words, as you accept the opportunity given to you without partiality, you grow the kingdom, which then draws forth favor to accomplish. Favor, I wonder, is not so much about God liking one person more than another, but about a person’s attitude and determination to push through, to advance the kingdom and to walk in God’s ways. Who needs favor if they are not doing anything? But all have the same opportunity to receive salvation and equal opportunity to advance the kingdom.
Favor isn’t for things; I don’t believe…not so I will have the best of things, but favor is to receive provision for my calling, my assignments.
God’s love remains the same; it is the constant not affected by any of my actions or behaviors.”
I looked up the word favor in the Strong’s, expecting to find some mention of blessing, overflow, or charmed karma-like magnetism to draw good things my way. Nope. That’s not what the Greek word translated as favor means. Surprisingly, the Greek word translated as favor is more often, 121 out of 152 times to be exact, translated as grace. Perfect. Of course, what else would it be?
I’ve been writing about grace quite a bit lately, so it really should be no surprise to me that God drew my attention to one more aspect of His miracle presence working in our lives. Grace, “the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls,
1. Turns them to Christ
4. Increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection and
5. Kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues” (Thayers – numbering and formatting is mine)
Notice how active grace is? It turns, keeps, strengthens, increases, and kindles. It grows, it works, and it motivates.
Thank God there is no partiality with HIM and that we all come to Him on a level playing field.
Our need for Jesus makes us all equal!
Once we enter salvation, however, we have the opportunity to rise and walk entirely in the grace that will carry us through difficult times and into our God-planned destiny.
The beautiful thing is we, not God, choose what we will do with the opportunity.
He has already picked us and given us, without partiality, the offer – to each of us the exact same opportunity.
Will you play? Will you engage? Will you press in? Will you take advantage of grace and favor to accomplish His will for you on this earth?
Grow in grace, friends; He’s already chosen you for His team!