According to Joel Osteen, if you have the favor of God, you will:

  • Be given premier parking spaces while everyone else is driving forever in circles.
  • Get your child into your favorite school even if he is four days too young.
  • Escape speeding tickets.
  • Find restaurant tables in crowded restaurants.
  • Get waved into the best traffic lane.
  • Find checkouts opened just for you when all the lines are packed.
  • Get blouses for sale prices before the sale starts.
  • Be bumped up to first class seats on airplanes.

In chapter 5 of Your Best Life Now, Osteen says that having the favor of God means that God will “make your life easier,” by giving you similar “special advantages” and “preferential treatment.”

And how do we get such “favor”? Easy:

“Every morning before you leave the house, say something like this: ‘Father, I thank You that I have Your favor. Your favor is opening doors of opportunity. Your favor is bringing success into my life. Your favor is causing people to want to help me.’”

Like Osteen, I’m all for seeing God in everyday life, recognizing His goodness even in the small things of life, and living the whole of life before God. But, when this is the full extent of Osteen’s examples of God’s favor, I cannot help exclaim, “Triviality of trivialities. All is triviality.” It’s all so small, so shallow, so petty, so paltry, so insignificant, so, well, so trivial. If that’s the extent of God’s favor, it doesn’t say much for God. Indeed it says, “Your God is too small, your God is too trivial.”

I have four questions for Osteen based on what he wrote in chapters five and six:

1. What do you have to say to sufferers? To the rape victim, or the abused child, or the 21-year-old with multiple sclerosis, or the gifted and godly father with ALS, or the mother grieving over her son killed in a road accident?

2. Where’s God’s fatherly chastisement in your scheme? Are we not told that being disciplined by God is a sign of His favor (Heb. 12:6)?

3. What about spiritual favor? Why do you have little or nothing to say about God’s favor being manifested in spiritual graces of regeneration, repentance, faith, patience, contentment, and so on? Are these not worth far more than a cheap blouse or even a first-class seat?

4. Do you really think King David proves your point? You wrote:

“David didn’t focus on his faults or on the things he had done wrong. No, he lived favor-minded. It was David who wrote, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Notice, he was expecting goodness and mercy, not part of the time, but all the days of his life. I like the way The Message translation puts it: “God’s kindness and goodness chases me down everywhere I go.” David’s attitude was, “I just can’t get away from the good things of God!”

I’m tempted to ask if you’ve read Psalm 51? Or anything after 2 Samuel 12v13. If you had, you would realize that David couldn’t get away from the sword of God. As Nathan the prophet said, it never departed from his house. Sure, he was forgiven, but God’s loving chastisement for his sin also followed him for the remaining days of his life. And for all the pain of it, David would say that also was one of the good things of God, one of the proofs of His favor.

This is the sixth post in a series on Joel Osteen’s book, “Your Best Life Now.” Previous posts were A Book That Begins With A LiePositive NegativityYour Average Life Now, The Worst Ever (Mis)Quotation Of The Bible, and My Favorite Joel Osteen Quote.

  • Gordon Woods

    David, thank you for your posts on Osteen’s book. Not that I am unaware Osteen’s philosophy, but rather your contrasts are are encouragement to me.

  • Richard Wolfe

    The day I brought my wife home from the hospital after some horrific cancer surgery, I turned the TV on to Joel preaching in what I hoped would be a time of comic relief for my wife. Joel told the story of a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer who thought away the cancer cells through positive confession. I had to restrain myself from kicking in the TV set.

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