“Does God play favorites?” is one question that riddles the minds of a lot of people, for different reasons.
It is a question asked by the non-Christian community and also members of the Christian community which is why it has become important to address this question.
In this article, we identify some falsely held views about God’s favor and their causal agents while highlighting the ‘God-centered’ nature of God. It is written with the hope and aim of providing you with more clarity on the matter.
The short answer is God does not show favoritism. But let’s look at some reasons why people think God shows favoritism or “hates” them.
Reasons people think God shows favoritism and why they are wrong.
Reason #1: False indoctrination.
‘God shows favoritism’ has been an agelong notion that seems to be passed down from generation to generation like folklore. Two categories of people can do this indoctrination.
- God’s people who think belonging to God’s family is the only way to be a beneficiary of God’s love and favor. This could create an impression that God indulges in nepotism.
- On the other hand, are onlookers or “strangers”, who see the favor of God being lavished in the lives of others.
Here is a statement by Lex Luthor of the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie franchise:
“See, what we call God depends on our tribe. Because God is tribal. God takes sides.”Lex Luthor
How far from the truth this is. Think about the millions of viewers who have this false idea sowed into their minds as a seed of tares. Outside of a healthy relationship with God, this idea would certainly metastasize.
How can one discover the truth and gain the right perspective? By examining the God-centered nature of God and looking through the lens of God’s word that reveals his mind.
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?Joshua 5:13-14.
When we read the above verse, we discover that God doesn’t take sides. He was not even on Israel’s side. The only side he takes is His because he is God-centered. He is true to his nature and committed to his plans. This benefits us too. Everything revolves around him. Imagine if he left the center.
Reason #2: Incomplete Understanding of some Scriptures.
If we’re being honest, one of the reasons people think God is capable of hate and can hate a person is because of what Malachi 1:2–4 says. The infamous ‘Esau have I hated’ verse.
“I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’”Malachi 1:2–4
Some of their arguments are;
Argument #1: It was unfair of God to choose Jacob over Esau because Esau was the firstborn.
Anyone who has this notion will change their standpoint when they truly understand the centeredness of God.
His plan, His people, and His Promise are all his possession and thus His business. He has all the right to choose as he pleases (election of Grace). If, as humans, we are at liberty to choose to create a will for our properties or pass it down to our firstborn child, why should be different with God and everything he possesses?
Argument #2: Both Israel and Edom sinned. God destroyed both. But only Edom remains destroyed. This is pure hatred.
Understanding the concept of Grace, favoritism, and justice (and their differences) will help us here.
Both Israel and Edom sinned and God destroyed both [Justice].
God allows Israel to rebuild [Grace; undeserved and not unfair]
God ensures to keep Edom in the rubble [Justice; penance for rebellion].
Esau was to serve(Gen 25:23), but He didn’t. Rather than serve, Edomites, Esau descendants, at that time, helped some of Israel’s enemies invade Israel. In so doing, chose to be God’s enemies. If they had served and fulfilled their God-given purpose, they would be at the center of God and be taken care of.
In His mercy and grace, God spared Israel not because they were particularly godly people but because God is God-centered; true to his nature as a loving and caring God(Deut 7:8), and committed to his salvific plans in which Israel played a key role.
Reason #3: A person ventured on some honest pursuits only to experience a bad break.
Bad breaks are a part of life. Some trials have a divine purpose while others are simply results of bad decisions. People going through bad breaks could become embittered and think God hates them especially when they see other people succeeding.
They say, “I prayed to him about it yet he let it fail. He must hate me.”
Did you let him decide or you went on about your desires anyways?
Did you truly commit the plans to His hands and let him do with them as he deems fit or did you tell him the plans you’re already set on executing and asked him to come on board?
Did you stop to listen for his will? Did you obey his instruction?
This is something Christians still do. They try to force God to take their sides when they should be taking His. Then, when their “good” plans fail, they become bitter.
In worse cases, they go further down the rabbit hole when they entertain misleading testimonies of other people who have been in similar situations and strengthen their suspicions that “God hates people” — even those with good motives.
Not every good plan is God’s plan.
God is God-centered! He doesn’t exist for you. You exist for Him.
God doesn’t discriminate and neither does his love.
God shows no partiality (Deut 10:17,). He causes rain to fall on both the just and unjust(Matt 5:45). Just as he gave His spirit to Peter, a Jew, he gave to Cornelius, a gentile(Act 15:7-9).
He invites every person into his centeredness, into His family in Christ, into His kingdom where He is Lord. He is the perfect leader and impartial Judge.
God shows no favoritism that’s why Rahab, a prostitute who took His side made it to Hebrews 11 along with household names such as Abraham and Moses.
Align your life with His will, purposes, plans, and agenda for you, and the world. Take His side.
Does God play favorites? No. God does not show favoritism.