“Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight …” (Exodus 33:13).
Is Moses talking in a circle? The verse seems baffling, or like pious doubletalk, or as if some translator has confused his Hebrew. But when we exert a little effort to understand, we see here a precious revelation that is for us as well as Moses.
Here is how it works: God shows us favor in saving us. As saved men and women, now in good standing with God and no longer His enemies, we may approach His throne with confidence (Hebrews 4:16) to ask for even more from Him. And what do we ask? If we are like Moses and have tasted how good His favor tastes, we ask Him to show us how to please Him even more than we are doing now—so that we will find even more favor.
But can a mortal man or woman actually please God? Yes we can, as it is seen in the following teachings:
“… try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8,10).
“… we make it our aim to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:9).
“And without faith it is impossible to please him …” (Hebrews 11:6)—that is, with faith it is possible to please him.
God desires to give to the one who pleases Him even more understanding of how to please Him:
“For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Matthew 13:12).
The condition of receiving more from God is that you be obedient to what He has already shown you (Philippians 3:16).
Think of the dynamic between Moses and God in Exodus 33:13 like you would think of any relationship: The loving wife says to her husband: “I love you, so please tell me how I can love you better.” The husband may reply, “Well, you can go fishing with me.” Or the husband says, “I really love you, so please tell me how I can love you better.” The wife may reply: “Well, would you listen to the poetry I write?”
And not so dissimilarly, we say to the Lord, “I really love you, Lord. Please show me how I can love you better, and so find more favor in your sight.” And He shows us more of His “love language,” and some ways in which we can please Him even more than we are doing now.
This is a blessed circularity: the more we love Him, the more favor He shows. The more favor He shows, the more we love Him.