For many years I have often responded to the query, “How are you?” with “I’m blessed.” That response grew into a favourite greeting (either on meeting a fellow Christian, or in departure) of “Be blessed.” My subsequent studies of Jesus’ teachings, especially the Beatitudes, has given me pause to ask if I am truly blessed, but has also given me some impetus toward seeking to recognise myself as one who is blessed by the One who ultimately is the source of our blessings.
Recently however, some people have responded to my greeting of “I’m blessed.” with the additional phrase, “and highly favoured.” And I have struggled a bit with this. Let me explain.
As nearly as I can determine, the phrase “highly favoured” occurs only once in Scripture, and in that instance it is addressed to a young virgin who had been chosen by God to bear His Son (Luke 1:28). Mary’s status as highly favoured servant of God resulted in a prophecy that a sword would pierce her soul (Luke 2:35), and ultimately she would witness the crucifixion of her son by the Roman occupying army instigated by the religious establishment of that day.
Further research (granted, limited by my own capabilities) has failed to find any direct Scriptural linkage between God’s blessing and His high favour. In fact, Romans 2:11 says that God does not show favouritism. He does not rank his children in order of importance, nor is His favour something we must compete to earn. In fact, when we come to God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, the favour of God is extended to us all (Psalm 5:12). As we honor Jesus, God’s favour follows us. That favour may manifest itself through greater responsibility, blessing, or even suffering for His sake (Acts 5:41).
Although God does extend His favour to His obedient children, He called only one person “highly favoured”. I have been the recipient of some of God’s favour, and part of that favour is the axiom that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28), but that “good” might not seem good while we are experiencing it. So, please do not call me “highly favoured”. I am unworthy of that description, and perhaps even fearful of the consequences of such a designation.
“Favoured”, yes. “Highly favoured”, I don’t think so.