John Yarbrough, director of Alumni Affairs and Public Policy
Truett McConnell University
The manner in which we stand can be as important as the reason we need to stand. We can do the right thing the wrong way and lose the message because of our manner.
As Mike Huckabee reminded us in his book, Character Makes a Difference, our character reflects our values and our values reveal our beliefs. In our standing we need to be aware of the beam in our own eye before we go splinter hunting in others’ eyes.
Esther not only stood, she stood in the right way. Her manner of humility and graciousness paved the way for her message. Her sweetness made the bitterness of her message win the day. She had a Christ-like spirit.
Our passage for study today is a contrast of character. Esther is humble, gracious, and kind. While Haman was filled with rage, pride, and revenge. Haman learns too late that pride and anger are the acids that destroy their own containers.
Pride is the base sin that puts the prideful person in a self-seeking position; we see ourselves as more important than others. Pride does “go before the fall.” The first sin was a sin of pride. Satan challenged Eve to eat of the fruit that God told her and Adam not to eat, and tempted her if did she do would be “like God.” That is amazingly prideful.
Pride and anger often lead to bad decisions. Haman’s anger at Mordecai and his personal pride lead him to take the poor advice of his wife and friends. They told him to build some gallows and be ready to ask the king to hang Mordecai. Pride can often make a person look embarrassingly stupid.
On the other hand Esther, with her humility and graciousness, was able to win the day. In the 3rd verse of our passage, Esther is asked a question she doesn’t answer until chapter 7, verse 3. Little could she have known of all that would take place in the 6th Chapter. Her kindness and patience guided her to wait for the right time and in the right manner to make her request known.
The word “humble” is found 71 times in the Bible. The Lord told Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that his people were to “humble themselves” as one of the requirements for Him to “hear them … and heal their land.” In Matthew 23:12, Jesus said, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
God seems to make a big deal out of humility, while you rarely see it articulated as a key characteristic today. We tell our kids to “be proud” or take a little “pride” in what you do. I once heard of a young man who was being given an award for being humble and they took it away from him because he accepted it.
Humble is defined as having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance. Being humble is not a weakness. It took incredible strength and courage for Esther to do what she did. Pride makes us think we can handle every situation in our own strength. When humility leads those of us who follow Christ to recognize that with Him nothing is impossible, but without him we only have our own strength on which to rely.
I have often wondered how much I have missed of what God would have done had I not attempted to do it my way. When we do it our way, in our strength, we get what we can accomplish. When we do it God’s way, in His strength, we get what only He can do.
When the situation began that Esther found herself all seemed lost, it appeared to be mission impossible. Then the God factor came into view and the impossible became possible and the victory became His.
When we are humble, respectful, and kind we find that even our enemies will generally listen to us. Esther’s character and attitude opened the door for her request. Her walk with God and preparation for the task gave her the grace to serve her enemy, Haman.
Esther’s obedience by doing what she could do in the right manner positioned her to see God do what only He could. Without her obedience, the full circle would have been incomplete.
The old hymn “Trust and Obey” reflects the best way to live. Trust God and obey His will even if all the evidence would lead you to take another path. He specializes in the impossible.
How would you friends and family describe your character? Are you conceited or considerate, humble or proud, kind or vengeful, trusting God or doing it your way? Character does matter.