Esther 2 Character Not Cosmetics
With my bible study group, I have been looking at the book of Esther. The only book in the bible that doesn’t mention God, yet it seems that God is present nonetheless. Much like in our lives, we cannot see or touch God in a physical sense, yet God is very much present and with us as we live our lives. God is as present as we choose to live with God in glorifying ways. As we respond to God, God grasps us. As God grasps us, we begin to know and experience God.
Looking at the second chapter of Esther has led me to see that character is not about outward appearances. Cosmetics are not nearly as important as the condition and stance of my heart. I would like to share some of these findings with you, my dear reader. I hope as usual that these reflections will both challenge and comfort you. That you will see something that will help you live faithfully with God. If you would like to respond, please do. Note that the biblical reflections you find on this blog are not comprehensive, but are notes toward a more comprehensive look at these words of the bible. My hope and prayer is that my words will both bless and unsettle you, both comfort and challenge you.
In Esther 1, Vashti was courageous and stood up for her convictions. She didn’t let Xerxes command her. She refused to let the King flout her beauty in a drunken orgy. In Esther 2, we see Xerxes missing her. Esther becomes even more courageous and beautiful, yet even at this early stage in our tale Hegai sees something in her that Xerxes will appreciate and dare we say grow to love. What I believe Xerxes finds most compelling in Esther is her grace, charm, restraint, unselfish authenticity, humility, and endurance. Some of these qualities may be more natural for us than some, yet each can and should cultivate and display more often.
Francis Hargrave said, “Women are the poetry of the world in the same sense as the stars are the poetry of heaven. Clear, light-giving, harmonious, they are the terrestrial planets that rule the destinies of mankind.”
While Esther is only a few pages long, her life and story speaks volumes about what it means to live a life of integrity and power. She, along with Ruth shows us what it means live a faithful life in ordinary circumstances. We don’t have to march off to war, save the world, or invent some new technology. Living our lives in the right way to the glory of God is more than enough. Ruth and Esther show us what it means to honor God with our lives. Their lives provide primary lessons for women, yet these lessons apply to men as well; the cultivation of character over and against cosmetics can help both genders to live the kind of life that pleases God. We are most concerned about the inside not the outside. It is OK to dress nicely to take care of our physical self, but what matters most is not our looks, but what comes out of our heart. Wearing nice clothes and looking good will not save you and will not please God. Nothing we do will ever earn us heaven. Nothing pleases God more than believing Jesus is Lord and Savior of all and living our faith in ways that matter.
Esther keeps information about her racial identity from the King. The question when looking at this aspect is omission a lie, something we are not supposed to do. Are there some occasions where it is Ok to lie or at the very least not share all the information you have. I think yes. An easy case would be hiding Jews from the Nazi’s in World War 2. Yet, we must ask ourselves are there times in our lives, in our daily lives when omission is the best possible practice. I suppose this is true. Even though, I think it best to be as honest as you can. Lying is wrong. Lying can rupture the trust people place in us and cause all sorts of harm. Some instances it may be the better of two evils. If lying can prevent someone from coming to harm than it is best. Telling the truth should be our aim.
We had a good conversation about this at my bible study. I am so lucky to be surrounded by men who live their faith and share their hearts as openly as they do. It has helped me to see that life with God is not easy and can be messy yet it is good. I pray that you, dear reader are part of a similar community or will find a good group too. We should read the bible on our own but we should also bring our findings to a group of people who loves us and wish for us the best. God can be found in the people we associate ourselves with regularly. God can be present with strangers and at odd times too.
Submission is a part of both Ruth and Esther’s stories. We see in them what it means to submit to others for God’s glory. Sometimes we have to submit to others to show the love and grace of God. Whether it is on our jobs, in our families, or in relationship with others this should be looked as positive and not negative for it shows who God is. Submission is good because it reminds us who is in charge. When it comes to my future, both vocationally and romantically, I need to have a more submissive for God’s plan.
We should let our faith inform how best we step out in faith, how best to submit ourselves.
Grace and Peace