One of the storylines that stands out in Advent is the type people God sovereignly chose to play a direct role in the incarnation story. He used lowly shepherds as messengers of the Messiah’s arrival. He chose an utterly plain, little rural town to be the birthplace of Jesus.
God chose Mary, a young virgin Hebrew girl, to be the mother of Jesus. What made Mary the ideal candidate to be used in such an epic role? Even Mary didn’t understand. Luke’s account of Jesus birth describes Mary as being “greatly troubled” at Gabriel’s news that she would carry and give birth to the Son of God.
“How could this be?” she must have wondered.
“Who am I?”
“You’ve for the wrong gal!”
Yet Gabriel gently admonishes her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” This was no accident. This wasn’t a lottery drawing. The wise and sovereign God had hand selected Mary because He had found her favorable.
But have you ever questioned what it was about Mary that was so favorable to God? I think her visit to Elizabeth sheds significant light on Mary’s admirable virtues:
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name. (Luke 2:46-49 emphasis mine)
Mary’s humble heart was filled with worship for her God. This was undoubtedly what God found favorable. Mary was a woman who was unassuming and thoughtful of others before herself. She was a woman whose heart was bent toward joyful expressions of adoration towards Yahweh, her Heavenly Father. This was very favorable to God.
God uses and magnifies the truly humble because they will glory in Jesus – not themselves. Mary’s soul glorified the Lord – not just her lips. Deep in her heart was a genuine love for God that superseded everything. When you see God the way Mary did, you can’t help but humble yourself.
Want to be used by God in unique and powerful ways? Examine your heart. Is it marked by humility and worship like Mary’s was?