Today we are going to pick up right where we left on last time with the second half of Luke 2:52. We talked in the last post about how Jesus grew in wisdom AND stature–His wisdom kept pace with his body as he got older. The next part of that verse says that He also grew “in favor with God and man. What does that mean?
The word translated as “favor” here is the same word that is also translated as “grace.” And the grace that we are talking about in this context is how God works in a person’s life. God working in a person’s life causes him or her to love and after the righteousness of God. Basically, this means that Jesus grew in His relationship with God, His ability to hear God’s voice, and His ability to apply that to what He was doing in His life.
Next, He grew in favor with man. Similar to “wisdom and stature”, favor with “God and man” are intentionally linked. What this part of the verse means isn’t as much that people favored Jesus and grew to like Him, but that as He grew, He began to show favor to other people in His life. And since this is linked to his relationship with God, what it means is that He began to see, treat, and love people the way that God sees, treats, and loves people.
We see this demonstrated in a very famous passage of scripture, Mark 12:28-31. Jesus is asked which is the greatest commandment. He answers “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” He then immediately follows this up with second greatest commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus continuously taught and demonstrated that as we grow in our relationship with God, we are to become more and more like Him in the way that we view and treat other people.
So, what does this look like practically? How do we love and treat people the way that God does? We mentioned last time how there are three main areas of our lives that, if we can get them figured out, most everything else will fall into place. Those three areas are money, sex, and power. So with the rest of this post, I want to look at how Jesus’ growth in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man from ages 12 to 18 affected how he treated people and taught people in these three specific areas.
The first lesson we learn from Jesus in regard to these three areas of our lives is to put God first. It sounds cliche, but that is only because it is actually very wise, so it has sort of caught on.
Financially, we put God first by pointing a portion of our income to the things God is doing in the world. Jesus taught about money, possessions, and how we prioritize these in our lives a lot. In fact, 1 in 6 words that are recorded in the gospels were about this topic. He said in Matthew 6:21 (NIV) “where your treasure [money] is, there your heart will be also.” He knew there was a direct correlation between what we value and what we spend our money on. By prioritizing giving and generosity in our finances, we put God first and show that our trust is in God first.
Sexually, we put God first by treating others, especially women, how God would treat them. We see that protected every woman he ever met, like a woman caught in the act of adultery. Everybody else wanted to execute her; Jesus protected her. A woman who sold her body to the highest bidder so she could buy groceries: Jesus forgave her. There was no
With our power and influence, we put God first by using that power to provide for and protect the ones that we love. This ties directly into the other two (money and sex). Provide your family with what they need to survive materially, emotionally, etc. And protect them by demonstrating to your wife and daughters how they should be treated by men and to your sons how they should go about treating others their entire lives.
The second lesson we learn from Jesus is to be wise and work hard. We see in Jesus’ life that He took responsibility for Himself by getting a job and working hard. He called out wicked and lazy people who didn’t take care of what was entrusted to them (Matthew 25:26). Jesus saw the value in hard work and wise decisions.
Financially, this makes a lot of sense. We work hard to provide financially for our families. But we also work hard to get out of the holes we’ve dug for ourselves. Debt is a big issue in many of our lives. The only way out is to work hard and chip away at it.
With sex and power, this means doing the hard work on the front end so that when presented with a temptation or situation, you have what you need to make a wise decision. Do not be naive in thinking that you won’t ever be presented with a sexual temptation, or that you will never be in a situation where you will have to make a decision on whether to do the right or wrong thing. Become the type of man who, when presented with those temptations and situations, knows exactly what the right path to take is.
Finally, Jesus also demonstrates strength in these three areas. Strength is simply having the resolve and courage to actually take the right path. It is the fortitude to do the hard thing when everything else in your life is telling you to do something else. Jesus showed His strength on multiple occasions, but perhaps none more impressively than submitting Himself to God’s will and facing the cross.
Financially, this means not spending more than you make. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy, especially with credit cards so easy to obtain these days. Strength in your finances is saying, “From this day forward, I am going to live within my means.” That doesn’t mean you can’t try to achieve more financial freedom with a bigger income. It just means that you aren’t going to imprison yourself with debt. And if you are already in debt, strength is also making a plan to get out of debt, and then sticking to it.
The same goes for sex and power. Strength is making a plan for these areas of your life, and then sticking to that plan whenever the need arises. Strength is preparing for whatever may come and not being surprised when things don’t go as expected. Strength is building your house on the Rock, so when the storms come, you are not washed away.
In addition to growing in wisdom and stature, Jesus grew in favor with God and man.
Growing in favor with God AND man are intentionally linked. As you grow in your relationship with God, you begin to view and treat people the way that He views and treats them.
Put God first in your life financially, sexually, and influentially.
Be wise and work hard.
Be strong by preparing for whatever life will throw at you.