With the advent of social media and the internet, humans have invented more ways to be celebrated. Sports personalities, musicians, politicians, actors and actresses, authors, bloggers, socialites all qualify for celebrity status.
When we put up a Facebook post, we hope to get as many likes and positive comments. It makes us feel good and loved. People actually spend money in an effort to have a positive image. People sue for defamation all in an effort to maintain a positive image. We even fear to express our opinions when they are not considered politically correct.
We can take comfort in the fact that even the holy book acknowledges the importance of reputation. (Proverbs 22:1) A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.
How then can we build and maintain a good image? There are some lessons we can learn from one person who successfully built and maintained a good image while staying true to who he was as well as his aspirations. In fact he was one of very few public leaders in world history who stood confidently at the end of his service to ask whether anyone could charge him with wrongdoing and there was none. (1 Samuel 12:1 -4).
And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favor both with the LORD, and also with men. (1 Samuel 2:26)
All humans have an inherent desire to be appreciated and esteemed. This to a measure defines how we go about our duties, what we say, do, where and how. Politicians are known to be good at obtaining favor with men by their speech, interactions etc. Many of us, make prayers to God asking daily for his blessings and favor upon us especially when we have goals to achieve or battles to fight.
How then can we gain favor with God and men? Especially knowing how often, the will of God and the desires of men are at variance? How can we strike this balance?
Observe therefore the following:
1. Just as the child Samuel grew so we must aim to grow in all things, especially spiritually.
We grow because we realize that the Lord has provided every insight, every opportunity and all power to enable us grow. We grow, because every day is an opportunity to acknowledge our imperfections and mistakes. Only then shall we be able to improve and avoid hurting fellow men and hurting our Lord Jesus.
Saying, "that's just who I am" even when I know that this personality or character trait is a source of strife and hurt to many is a sign of refusal to grow. We must equally not be satisfied with small or big achievements in our work for God or service to humanity. Each day must be spent in doing greater service to God and man than the previous day.
Finally, we grow because we know God has forgiven our sins and wiped the slate clean. Dwelling on past failures, weaknesses and sins impedes growth to a very great extent. Acknowledge that God, not the past, is the single indispensable factor for growth.
2. Seek to be in favor first with the Lord.
Note that the Lord gives rain to the wicked as well as the righteous and that similarly the Lord loves all people. To be in favor with the Lord therefore means more than seeking material blessings from him or securing his love. For there is none on earth, atheists included, who have not the love of God and His blessings.
To be in favor with the Lord, therefore implies having a relationship with Him, a friendship, just like God calls Abraham his friend, and David a man after His own heart. A friendship is nurtured when two people communicate, do things together, mind each other and share interests.
As we speak to God more (prayer), listen to Him more (bible study), work with Him more (sharing his love to men) and share his interests (the spiritual, physical, mental etc. welfare of humanity) then we gain favor with the Lord.
3. Do not break your back trying to be in favor with men.
The same men, who cheered Jesus at the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, shouted "crucify him!" a few days later. When you are in favor with God, you will have favor with men when the Lord needs you to have it.
Desires to have favor with men at all costs have led many to suffer great losses financially and spiritually. This verse speaks of favor with men almost as an afterthought. "...and also with men" meaning that it was not really his chief objective, but something that came after the chief objective. Some of the world’s greatest have been labelled as destructive, traitors and even terrorists only to be celebrated posthumously. Perform your duty to God and man faithfully and tirelessly without casting glances behind you to watch for applause.
May you grow on and have favor with God, and also men, this day and always.