[Note: Our guest author is Don McGee, an evangelist formerly with Crown & Sickle Ministries and frequent guest on our ministry’s television program, Christ in Prophecy. This devotional is from Don’s newest writing series, “Oh, One More Thing…”]
“For such a time as this…” Those words are readily recognized as being from the Old Testament Book of Esther (4:14). Specifically, they are part of the message Mordecai sent to his young cousin Esther as she hesitated about talking to King Ahasuerus about Haman’s plan to annihilate the Jews in the Medo-Persian Empire about 2,400 years ago. You’ll remember that Esther was the king’s queen and favorite wife.
Mordecai, who raised Esther after her parents died, wanted her to do something. But, she was fearful, for though she was the queen, she understood that immediate death possibly awaited her if she approached the king uninvited, and he hadn’t sent for her in a month. And, there was the fact that Haman was the king’s most trusted advisor.
Mordecai explained that her becoming queen was no quirk of history. She was there for a specific reason, and he reminded her that her people—along with herself and her family—would die if she did nothing. It was that precarious situation that framed her determined resolution, “If I die, I die” (Esther 4:16).
Esther eventually realized that God had overruled in the administration of a crazed and cruel Persian king in such a way that brought her into the position of the deliverer of His people. The whole reason for who and what she was had to do with one critical event.
Cravings of the Heart
Many of us have preached from the Book of Esther through the years with the emphasis most often being upon the fascinating story itself coupled with some poignant textual truth. This is typically the way history is preached using the expositional narrative style.
Though the applications of this story’s great truths adjust with time and culture, what does not change is our sometimes-undue fixation upon personal comfort and safety. In fact, as time moves on, it seems our emphasis upon self only increases. Unfortunately, sated Christians seldom think about needy Christians down the road, much less those on the other side of the world.
Does that mean Christianity is socialism? The word “no” cannot be written strongly enough. Does it mean Christians in America should feel guilty about their affluence? Again, the answer is an emphatic “No!” Socialism is taxation and extortion in all their coercive forms; it is a despicable moral pathogen that murders the human spirit. Christianity is associated with giving as we have purposed in our hearts and treating others with compassion.Don McGee: #Socialism is taxation and extortion in all their coercive forms; it is a despicable moral pathogen that murders the human spirit. #Christianity is associated with giving as we have purposed in our hearts. Click To Tweet
So, what does this mean? It means that stations in life, possessions, personal influences, talents, and everything else are not mere coincidences; which further means those things do not necessarily come solely as a result of intelligence, education, and hard work. The fact is, God orchestrates the lives of His disciples, something that has nothing to do with what is mistakenly called luck. He directs our circumstances for His glory and His purposes and, incidentally, many of those purposes may never be known in this life.
The problem is that people cannot think beyond themselves because they cannot see beyond themselves. Unfortunately, even godly people are at times inclined toward a self-centric lifestyle.
Jeremiah said the human heart is inherently evil. If that is true—and it most certainly is true—the inevitable result of looking inwardly and giving undue emphasis to self is to allow evil to be a more than necessary influence in life, even the life of a believer.
Satan uses self-centeredness to enhance any form of opposition to God. Indeed, it seems clear that opposition to God, His Word, and His people (Christians for being Christians and Jews for being Jews) is increasing exponentially in the 21st Century with no let-up in sight. Haman would be proud.
Worshiping Other Gods
With self-interest comes the religion of Humanism, something Satan likes to offer as the progressive alternative to the overly restrictive and costly biblical worldview. By this, he effectively deceives and influences spiritually anemic people. The impact upon society is obvious, but what is not so obvious is the impact upon Christian families, their congregations, and their distant brethren.
As the seed of God-hatred germinates in human hearts, people become estranged from each other and from God by withdrawing into their own worlds of personally-created reality. And, the shameless homage we pay to the religion of Humanism (and technology, its false prophet) with its godless parameters makes it all so easy.
Consider one simple example. It is virtually impossible for those born after the “baby boomer” generation to clearly see just how much the American way of life has changed. Today, not only do people not take time to have face-to-face visits anymore, many don’t even want such intrusions into their time and space.
It is easier to send a text to somebody or to give them a brief call while on the way to the store or office or job site because you can’t do much else while driving anyway. Thus, the conscience nagged by instinctive familial responsibility is appeased, at least to some degree.
This is one reason many old people alone at home or in nursing homes feel so isolated and abandoned. They are both unfamiliar and uncomfortable with technology, having lived their entire lives in direct contact with their families and friends.
Facetime on a phone simply cannot bring with it the things that are important to older people; things such as the subtle features of a beloved family member, the familiar and comforting smells of their clothes and houses, the warmth of their touches and caresses, and so on.
These are important things to older people, and not only can they not be conveyed using technology, but most critical to understand is that no amount of technological sophistication can ever replace them. The ugly fact is we have lived in the phony fast lane for so long that we have forgotten how to scratch the real itch. We have come to the point where personal benefit is the number one motive in most of what we do. We just can’t seem to get past the fact that our personal comfort and well-being are not always first on God’s list of important events and issues.Don McGee: The ugly fact is we have lived in the phony fast lane for so long that we have forgotten how to scratch the real itch...our personal comfort and well-being are not always first on God's list. Click To Tweet
Falling By Faithlessness
Well, if it is so easy to compromise on the important aspects of family relationships, would it also be easy to compromise on the important aspects of our relationship with our Lord? Yes.
The crucial thing about Esther is that she—like Abraham in Genesis—clarified for modern Christians the foundational principle of faith. I hope that we have not become so sedated and confused that we have forgotten that faith is identified by its practice. It is called “faithfulness.”
Esther has shown us that faithfulness gives absolutely no consideration to consequences. If a person makes a godless decision for any reason, that decision is obviously dishonoring to God. Even if a person makes a godly decision, but does so only because they believe the result will be personally beneficial in some way, that person did not act in faith.
Further, if a person chooses to do something knowing the result will cost them personally, but is motivated by their desire to be seen as a selfless martyr whom God is really glad to have on His side, well that too does not honor Him.
The question is: Why do we live like that? The answer is: We believe we are the center of our existence. Do not misinterpret these words for Scripture indeed condemns laziness and lack of initiative. We might take strong note of 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11 especially in this election year!
Living By Faith
So the context is this: to righteously enjoy affluence and the results of laborious diligence is a good thing, but to live as though who we are, what we do, and what we have is solely for the gratification of self is to reject the responsibilities to which God has called us.
It is true that God is not mentioned in the Book of Esther, but His providential hand is clearly recognized in both Mordecai and Esther. Today we do not find much of God in self-centered people, but we can be sure that same providential omniscience knows all about lying hearts and cheap lifestyle theatrics.
We often don’t know why we may have, or maybe even not have, certain possessions, talents, successes, or whatever. That is okay—we are to trust God for the reasons. Practicing faithfulness to a conclusion in a matter could show us some things we didn’t know were possible. It is exciting to understand that God has made us who we are and has given us what we have for express purposes, purposes that perhaps only eternity will reveal.
Regarding faithfulness, the Holy Spirit once inspired an unknown writer to say, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
Regarding trust, the great sufferer Job, on a similar level with Esther, put it plainly when he said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
And, regarding Who has the say-so in these matters, Paul once wrote to a very, very carnal congregation and said, “You are not your own; you were bought with a price…” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).