Esther 3–Exploring Pride
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.
In Chapter one, we explored the problem of pride. In this, the third chapter of our story there is more pride. Haman and maybe Mordecai act with pride. A question when reading this chapter to keep in mind is Mordecai being prideful when not bowing to Haman.
Why Mordecai does not bow is not told in our story. The officials wondered why Mordecai would ignore the King’s protocols. It could’ve been a measured political act or it could have been a faithful religious act. As a Benjaminite, Mordecai’s faith may have prevented him from bowing to Haman. This is something interesting to ponder. The biblical record does not yield anything clear.
Haman’s immediate response of rage reveals arrogance and pride. Rage and pride seem to go together, almost as if you cannot have one without the other. There is truth to the advice of avoiding getting involved in the schemes of angry people. The moment you fall prey to them, you step outside the grace of God. There is a fine line between anger and frustration. Some things frustrate me. One such thing is when I am at work (I cashier at a retail store) and someone comes through my line talking on the cell phone. This is rude. They ignore you and see you as an automaton there to serve them. I have had to struggle with this; I want grab the phone and chuck it across the store. I resist and force myself to keep my cool.
When we think ourselves above others and they slight us, we feel justified by our anger and all our anger causes us to do. We feel right in injuring and maybe even taking the life of another when we ourselves as superior to the other person. We say we are doing what is right and just want justice after all. We can use justice as a way of hurting someone else.
As God’s people, we are to be holy people in this world but not of it. We are not to revere/bow/worship the rulers of this world. Yet, we are to show respect and love for all people those we like and those we don’t, but not worship them. There is only one worthy of our worship. We worship God by loving others.
Mordecai would not bow to Haman. We can write lengthy creeds and declare our beliefs in eloquent statements of faith, but the true test of our belief in God comes through real life temptations. What we do when we are pressured, when people want us to submit to them will reveal our true faith. When we are faced with pressures and problems, our true faith emerges. We can act with respect and love in denying others wants especially if what they want stands in opposition to God’s will.
The practical evidence of humility knows one’s place, occupying no more than that space, in loving others and showing compassion. We don’t ask for more or think of ourselves before others, yet we do not think less of ourselves or pity our position in life. Humility is not about lessening who we really are, but affirming who we really are. Loving others and showing compassion is about living from weakness but vulnerability and seeking the other persons welfare at least as much as our own. Sometimes we love people by pointing out where they are wrong or need to change. Love is not easy and neither is humility.
I like to think of myself as a humble person and I have even claimed this, but when I do this, I am not being humble. I am calling undue attention to myself. I agree with Ernest Hemingway when he said, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” True nobility is being better than you used to be, in making oneself the measure of your growth. I don’t compare myself with others and I am annoyed when others do compare me with someone else. I can never be better than anyone else, but I can and should be better than I used to be.
Andrew Murray diagnoses the reason for our humility by saying, “Our humility before God has no value, except that it prepares us to reveal the humility of Jesus to our fellow men.” If we are humble or seek to be humble and our humility does not point to Jesus than it is worthless. Our lives, our whole lives should point others to the love and grace found in Jesus Christ.