One of them is jealousy from others . . . typically from one’s peers.
Jealousy over God’s favor in Abel’s life cost him that life. His brother Cain grew insanely jealous and killed him over it. Saul became jealous because of the favor of God in David’s life. That jealousy moved him to try to kill David. Jesus Christ Himself was put to death by those who were envious of His life and ministry (Matt. 27:18; Mark 15:10).
That jealousy seems to have taken root when Jesus was drawing larger crowds than both John the Baptist and the Pharisees: ”The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John . . . When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee” (John 4:1, 3).
The servant is not greater than his Master.
If God chooses to put His favor on your life . . . or your ministry . . . be prepared for others to become jealous of you. However, your reaction is everything. If you respond in kind, you will lose the Lord’s favor. But if you choose the path of David and Jesus, entrusting it to God and not returning evil for evil, the Lord’s favor will only increase in your life and He will produce more fruit through your ministry.
The words of Peter say it all, I think: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
The other danger is pride. For whatever reasons, those who experience God’s favor are susceptible to the benighted idea that they are somehow special and this is why God has given them favor. When this happens (and believe me, it happens more than one would imagine), God’s favor eventually disappears from their lives.
I’ve known men who had God’s favor operating in their lives years ago. Their ministries were making huge impacts, people were being genuinely changed, while they had their share of persecution (as all servants of the Lord do), they had favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). Today, there’s hardly anything left of their ministries. The crowds have dissipated, they’ve done more damage than good, and they are legitimately regarded as toxic. The pages of church history are full of such people. And they still exist today.
What happened? Pride was crouching at the door and was given a free pass. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Pride, if it’s embraced in the human heart, will eventually drip from one’s lips. And their garments will bear the stench of it.
Discerning Christians will spot it and head for the door. Kool-aid drinkers will be blind to it or find a way to justify it.
God resists the proud but He gives His favor to the humble.
When you hear a servant of God demean, disparage, or ridicule other ministers, when their work has been greatly reduced, when they leave a trail of hurt people who used to regard them highly, when you hear them say or imply that they are special or more important than others, when they take credit for what God has shown them, acting as if it’s their own unique revelation, etc. they’ve swallowed the pill of pride and they are now toxic. Trust me on that. These are clear signs that God’s favor has left them. Those who remain under the ministries of such people will become affected spiritually in some pretty unhealthy ways. I’ve seen it happen more than once, unfortunately.
A word of advice: Proverbs says that those who walk with wise men will be wise and the companion of fools will become foolish. From the Gospels, we discover that those who walk with those who have God’s favor will receive it themselves. The opposite is true too.
So . . . if God has put His favor on your life and ministry, be prepared for others to be jealous of you. This will be translated into persecution of one form of another. But watch your reaction. Bring it to the Lord and leave it with Him. It’s His business and it’s His battle; it’s not yours to deal with.
Equally so, if God’s favor is on your life, note that pride is not far away, and do not underestimate its power to delude the human mind. Remembering this is part of the solution. Another part is to bless, befriend, and support others who are enjoying the favor of the Lord.