Does God play favorites with people?
Many beautiful metaphors are used in the Bible to describe us and our relationship with God. There are two that I think help us tremendously to understand the answer to this question. The first is the use of the term “Father” in reference to God. It portrays, as well as words can, the relationship God wants to have with us and what we are in relation to him. We are children. But most important to remember here is that He is a perfect parent. His love for us is perfect.
It is certainly easy to look around and see, or more accurately, think we see, what looks like favoritism on God's part. I am just as guilty of this as anyone else. But if we are privileged to learn the realities of the life of those who seem to be so much luckier or more blessed than we are, it becomes evident that the rosy picture we see is not the real one.
As any loving parent knows, each child has completely individual needs and abilities to grow and learn. Those needs and abilities are all taken into consideration when guidance, discipline, gifts and responsibilities are given. Those who know children have heard the complaint, "That's not fair!" more than once. But what is not seen by the child is that the parent in charge has carefully tried to choose the best course that will ultimately bring the most happiness to each child.
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him" (Mat. 7:11).
Another metaphor refers to God as the potter and people as the clay. At first, this might sound demeaning, but if you have ever watched a potter or seriously worked with clay, you know what great care and attention goes into each piece. Many pots may look the same, but the potter can affectionately show you each and every variation. Many pots may look similar in form, but the potter can tell you how each is made for a different, specific purpose. God is our perfect potter and is deeply attached to each individual creation and its purpose.
"But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;" (Romans 2:10-12)
"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of theinheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons." (Colossians 3:23-25)
So finally, the answer to the question, "Does God play favorites with people?" is no. As our perfectly wise parent and perfectly loving Creator, He sees in each of us the truly individual beauty and distinctive purpose for which we were made.
"Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand" (Isa. 64:8).