So far, we have seen that Jesus increased in wisdom (mental), stature (physical), favor with God (spiritual), and now we will consider that He increased in favor with men. This emphasizes the importance of man’s social relations, his relationships with fellow human beings.
Though we are not to have as our highest goal, pleasing people, this does not mean that human relations are unimportant. They must never be primary nor of greater importance than relationship with God, but they have an appropriate place and there are right and wrong ways to approach them (Mt.10:37).
I once had an inmate in my prison class state that he had recently realized how selfish he is. This was a good realization. He then said that he was going to give up this selfish approach toward life – another good move. He followed that by saying he was going to live for his wife and daughter. As impressive as this might sound to some, this is an inappropriate ultimate commitment. I told him, unless he was truly living for God supremely, he would never be the husband his wife should have or the father his daughter deserved. Though it is proper to aim for correct human, social relationships, they must not be more important than our relationship with our Creator. We will only learn how to approach them properly and affectively when doing so according to God’s design.
As we begin to approach human relationships according to God’s design, reflecting the character of Christ, we become the best contributor and influence we can become and, in a general but not absolute way, gain favor with men.
That being said, there must be considerable caution regarding how we understand the dynamics of social favor. It must be remembered that human beings suffer with many spiritual, mental, emotional, moral and psychological issues that complicate this matter. As we reflect upon the life of Jesus, we find that crowds were, in fact, drawn to Him. His focus was fulfilling the work His Father had given Him in a manner that was pleasing in His sight. What he did was an extension of this purpose. He was not employing tricks and gimmicks, using techniques and devices to appeal to people (too common among many hip, postmodern, emergent “churches” in our contemporary setting). As He went about His Father’s work, He attracted the attention of large numbers of people, drawn and challenged by His character, teaching and miracles. This does not mean they were drawn by proper motive nor does it mean that all people were always drawn to Him. Often, while appealing to the masses, He was at odds with the religious leaders. So, again I say, there must be considerable caution regarding how we understand the dynamics of social favor and yet, we must realize that aiming to make social relations what God designed them to be is important.
Finally, let it be seen that many of the same people who gathered around to hear His teaching, ate the bread and fish He miraculously provided and spread coats and branches on the road, shouting Hosanna as He entered Jerusalem also cried, “Crucify Him!” when they found Him to be a disappointment. Be prepared, men’s allegiance is fickle.
“And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Lk.2:52).
“…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart (Spiritual), and with all your soul (Spiritual), and with all your mind (Mental), and with all your strength (Physical). The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Social). There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mk.12:30-31).