We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine. ~
It was, perhaps, an odd question for my daughter to ask while we were making cookies.
We were rolling out the dough to make Hamentaschen, the traditional cookie for Purim. It’s a celebration described in the book of Esther, commemorating how God delivered His people from annihilation through the bravery and obedience of a young queen who put herself in danger and stood up for her people.
So, we make these cookies every year, roll out the dough, cut the circles, fill them with apricot and strawberry preserves and then shape into a triangle.
Covered in flour and sticky with preserves, I may not have been in the best shape to answer deep philosophical, spiritual, and historical questions. And yet, what better time than when your child asks and when Scripture isn’t just read in a cold and academic way, but rolled out into cookies?
Why would one man strive so hard to wipe out an entire people group? Why did he hate the Jews so much?
This is what she asked.
There’s a historical answer to the question that partly explains Haman’s genocidal mania. Scripture tells us repeatedly that this Haman who hated God’s people was an “Agagite’ (Esther 3:1).
He was a descendant of King Agag, leader of the Amalekites, who was captured and ultimately killed by the prophet Samuel after the Amalekites were destroyed in battle (1 Samuel 15).
This was a long-standing family vendetta festering over generations.
But there’s something more in these ten short chapters of Scripture.
Haman was a constant self-promoter, always on the lookout for ways to gain honor, admiration, acclaim, notice, advancement, reward….even worship. In fact, “All the king’s officials would bow down before Haman to show him respect whenever he passed by, for so the king had commanded. But Mordecai refused to bow down or show him respect” (Esther 3:2).
How it irked Haman every time he walked by the king’s gate to see Mordecai’s head held high!
It seems preposterous, this prideful Haman, expecting others to bow down to him…Thinking that whenever the king rewarded anyone, it would be him…Thinking he had the right to wipe out an entire people group…Thinking he deserved to hang another man on the gallows simply because he was annoyed.
But oh how this world entices us to a similar pride. Maybe we don’t expect people to bow down to us. Maybe it’s not that obvious or extreme.
Still, we are lured into this lie that if we’ll ever get anywhere it has to be on our own. We need to fight and scramble and self-promote, grab what we can get and push ourselves onto others so they’ll notice us.
In order for our voice to be heard, we have to shout.
Our ministries have to be big in order to matter.
We think the world rests on our lightweight shoulders.
We focus on ourselves, on our own needs and struggles instead of opening our eyes wide to the world of pain around us.
We have mostly one-sided conversations where we share our ideas, opinions, stories, problems and never stop to listen, truly listen, to the other person. Sometimes it doesn’t occur to us that they have something to say.
It’s all the ugliness of pride.
But then there’s Mordecai, who saved the king’s life from an assassination plot and instead of using that to”get ahead” or win reward, he simply awoke each morning and went to work again. Even later, after the king honored Mordecai, this humble man “returned to the palace gate,” clocking in for another day on the job.
Mordecai’s was the quiet life of obedience and serving God in the day in-and day out, the grand opportunities and the daily grind. It was his humility that made room for God to use Him.
The Psalms reflect God’s passion for the humble:
Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud
(Psalm 138:6 NLT)
The Lord supports the humble, but he brings the wicked down into the dust.
(Psalm 147:6 NLT)
(Psalm 149:4 NLT)
Pride chains us down to a captivity of our own creation.
It’s freeing, though, when we realize that “success” doesn’t depend so much on our own striving, but on simply obeying God’s call and trusting Him with the results.
It’s freeing to look past our own lives and choosing instead to reach out to others, to lift them up and be their encouragement.
It’s freeing to listen more than we talk.
It’s the freedom of making this life less about us and all about Him and serving others.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King