By J.D. Davis
Senior Pastor, Dublin Baptist Church, Dublin, OH
Focal Passage: Esther 3:1-9
Sooner or later we all make a public spectacle of ourselves. Regardless of our intentions, we do something in public that is embarrassing or cannot be hidden. But have you ever intentionally made a public spectacle of yourself for the cause of Christ? This passage from Esther for this week’s Sunday School lesson gives the account of Mordecai refusing to bow before Haman. Because of his convictions and allegiance to the Lord, Mordecai intentionally makes a public spectacle of himself.
Mordecai makes his stand at the king’s gate, one of the most public venues of his day. He also offends Haman, a man full of pride who despises the Jews already. However, Mordecai chooses to make a public spectacle by refusing to bow to Haman.
We understand how we are not to worship any man and that our devotion is to the Lord above all others and Mordecai’s decision is rooted in that understanding. However, one of the great questions Mordecai’s stand confronts us with is to know how and when we are to make a public stand for our faith? Paul wrote to the church at Rome “Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1-2 HCSB). While Paul’s admonition seems to contradict what we see in Mordecai, it is also written to a church in the capital city of a harsh pagan government. So when and how do we make our public stand for Christ and still submit to the authorities God has established?
Here are two great guidelines:
(1) Always make a stand for Christ when it is Biblical. Mordecai does not bow to Haman because he does not like him. He refuses to bow because Scripture has taught him that there is only one God to be worshiped. When the choice is whether to violate Scripture or take a public stand, always take a public stand.
(2) Always make a stand for Christ when it glorifies Jesus and builds personal humility. Mordecai does not refuse to bow because of his pride. Sometimes our pride is rooted in a “you cannot make me” type of pride. We can make the right decision but for the wrong reasons. Make sure your stand is about glorifying Jesus and not personal justification.
You also never know what impact your stand for Christ and biblical values might have on others. When I was in college, I took a philosophy class. One day the professor posed a hypothetical ethical dilemma. The scenario centered upon stealing medicine to save your spouse’s life. The question was if it was right. I took a stand that stealing was wrong, regardless of the situation. I argued that the ends could never justify the means. It turned out, I was the only one who took that stand that day in that class. I did not set out to make such a public stand, it just happened that way. What I did not know, was that my future wife was in that class that day and she still remembers my ethical stand.
When biblical commands and teachings are being violated, don’t be afraid to make a public spectacle of yourself for the cause of Christ. When your stand causes Christ to be glorified and you know that pride is not driving the action, don’t be afraid to make a public spectacle of yourself for the cause of Christ. When you make a public spectacle of yourself for the right reasons, don’t be surprised if it has a profound impact on someone watching.
— Davis is senior pastor of Dublin Baptist Church, Dublin, Ohio.