By Rick Elsey
Pastor, West End Baptist Church, Columbia
At the start of the legislative session on April 18, 1947, Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall made the following request to God: “Give to us a clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for — because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.” Another writer states, “You’re only as good as your character and what you stand for.” What we stand for comes down to our personal convictions and how strongly we support them.
In the text for this lesson, the focus moves away from Esther and shines upon Mordecai. He is faced with two different situations that test his commitment to his convictions. His decisions reflect the main point of the lesson: “It’s always right to do the right thing.”
Stand against wrong (Esther 2:21-23). In this section, Mordecai is sitting at the king’s gate. Whether he was there on official duty or chose to stay there because it kept him close to Esther, he was in the right place at the right time. His proximity to the palace allowed him to overhear a plot to kill the king. In his mind, his only choice is to share this information with Esther who could pass it on to the king. If he were to keep silent, the king, members of the royal family and even Esther could be harmed.
The king orders an investigation of the charges. Everything Mordecai has reported is proven correct. In response, the two conspirators are executed. As a result, Esther remains safe in her position as queen. One would expect Mordecai to receive some type of reward for his faithfulness, but the king does nothing.
God often puts us in the right place at the right time to act on His behalf. These actions may go unnoticed by others with not even a thank you in return. Never forget that our convictions never go unnoticed by God. Our faithfulness today may make a major impact in the future as it will for Mordecai.
Courage, convictions and consequences (3:1-6). King Xerxes does nothing for Mordecai but, instead, elevates Haman above all other officials. The Scriptures do not record the reason for this promotion, only the benefits. Out of respect for his new position, everyone would bow down before Haman as he passed by, everyone except Mordecai. Once again, the Scriptures do not give the reason behind Mordecai’s unwillingness to pay homage to Haman. One clue may be found in Mordecai’s confession that he was a Jew. Haman’s lineage could be traced back to the Amalekites. Israel had a long history of confrontation with the Amalekites dating back to the exodus. This may have played a key factor in Mordecai’s decision to stand against Haman. His defiance may have been a spiritual commitment not to bow down to a mere man. His devotion was for God alone. Whatever the rationale, it took courage on the part of Mordecai to stand for his convictions.
Haman’s response to Mordecai reminds us that convictions also have consequences. Haman is enraged by Mordecai’s lack of respect. He is so angry that he plans to wipe out all Jews in the kingdom. One man’s convictions can have major consequences. I am reminded of three other men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who refused to bow down to the king’s image. Their courage and conviction landed them in a fiery furnace, only to be rescued by God.
God calls us to stand with conviction. He gives us the courage to stand by those convictions and the consequences that follow. Remember, “It’s always right to do the right thing.”