Cookies And Humble Pie

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. ~
D.L. Moody

It was, perhaps, an odd question for my daughter to ask while we were making cookies.

“Why, Mom, did Haman want to kill all of the Jewish people?”

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 almost 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.

Pride tricks us and tempts us and takes right over sometimes.

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 the next day and went to work again. And then the next day.  And the day after that.

Even later, after the king honored Mordecai, this humble man “returned to the palace gate,” clocking in for another day on the job.

Mordecai chose simple faithfulness.

His 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)

For the Lord delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.
(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.

You can check out the recipe we use to make Hamentaschen here!

One Week Without a Voice: Lesson Three

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame”
(Proverbs 18:13 ESV).

Everyone has a particular Mom-style and special God-given Mom-talents.

I do, too.  I have a talent for Mom-speeches.

There’s the “Your sister is your best friend.  Other friends will come and go, but God gave you a sister for life” speech.

The “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” speech.

There’s the “Behave like a lady, talk like a lady, eat like a lady, sit like a lady” speech on manners and the “Don’t embarrass me in public” speech for family outings.

I give an “Always do your best and strive for excellence so you can be proud of your work” speech and the “God gave you special talents for you to develop and use” speech and also a “The best things in life are worth working hard for, so don’t ever give up” speech.

Also the “You made a commitment, so you have to fulfill your promise” speech for when my kids get tired out half-way through activities.

My kids also know the “I love you no matter what, even if I’m disappointed in you” speech and a “you’re totally beautiful inside and out—and the inside is what matters most” speech, which is often followed up by a discussion of boys and the “you are so smart and so talented and God has such big plans for you; worrying about boys is just a distraction (and no dating until you’re 30)” speech.

We also have the “You are a King girl.  You represent our family and you represent God, so keep that in mind in what you say and do” speech and a speech on “You don’t have to be best friends with everyone you meet, but you do have to treat others with kindness.”

Yes, I can hop up on a Mom soapbox at the slightest provocation.  Fortunately, I have one daughter who seems to listen.

And I have one that. . . well, doesn’t.  By the time I am finishing up one of my epic declarations, she’ll look me in the eye and ask something totally random, like “Why does Batman wear a mask?” or “Can I have ice cream now?”  Clearly the whole time I’ve been waxing eloquent she’s been thinking about superheroes and dessert.

Last week, I could barely tell my kids it was time for dinner much less deliver one of my famous orations.  My throat was a scratchy mess and the loudest I sounded was when I was coughing.

And a week without speechifying was good for me.  It’s not that any of the things I say are bad.  Who knows?  Maybe my girls really do hear me and take my treasures of wisdom to heart.

Maybe when they are 35 and looking in the face of their own daughter, they’ll find themselves repeating the speeches they learned by heart from me.

But just as important as what I say . .. probably more important really . . . is whether I’m listening to what they have to say.

A lady in a Bible Study with me years ago said, “Listening is an act of love.”

This is true for us; we can show love to others by listening, really listening, to what people have to say.  It’s looking them in the eye when they talk rather than shuffling papers, multi-tasking, glancing at our watches and texting on our phones.

It’s asking deep questions to show we care and want to hear more and are interested in their thoughts.

It’s controlling our own thoughts—our own tendency to think up things to say while they “chatter”—and instead actually focusing on what the other person is expressing.

It’s redirecting conversations to be about them instead of always us.  Yes, we all have “stuff,” we all have life to share and stories to tell.  But for a few minutes, you can make another person feel loved just by letting them be the one to talk.

Then there’s God.  Listening to Him is an act of love also.  It shows we value what He has to say and aren’t rushing through our time with Him, dumping our problems at the altar and rushing off into our day like He’s a personal assistant.

Instead, we can pray that, like He did for Isaiah, God “wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed” (Isaiah 50:4).  He can tune our hearts and our ears to listen to His voice and the hearts of others all through our day.

Partway through my week without a voice, I loaded my daughters into the mini-van with a whispered, “Let’s go somewhere” and drove them to the movie theater to see Brave, the story of a Scottish princess trying to escape arranged marriage.

There in that darkened icebox of a theater, I watched a mom make speeches to a daughter who was tired of hearing them.  Both of them were talking; no one was listening and understanding.

But then the mom couldn’t talk at all.  Her only form of communication was a pointing finger and some pantomime and charades.  Yet, somehow mother and daughter never understood each other so well as when there was forced silence and purposeful listening.

As I sat there watching an animated Disney/Pixar film, I thought of James’s words: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19 ESV) and I remembered that speeches are fine, but I’m too quick to make them.

It’s much better to be quick to hear, prone to listen, talented at understanding . . . and slow to speak.

Who needs you to listen to them today?

You can read other devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.