We need heros: not perfect people who accomplish great things, but those who are willing to give regardless of the outcome. We need their stories, their examples. The world needs you to live as a hero… Today we look at the story of Esther at the defining moment of her life in which she had to make a decision: take the easy way out or risk it all and stand up for her faith, her beliefs, her people… Who are the heros in your life?
Here is perhaps the best single bible definition of what it means to be a hero: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. ~John 15:13. Jesus said the night before he died, a night of agony as he knew what was coming, while in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Lord if it be possible, take this cup from me…not my will, but your will be done.” A defining moment, thee defining moment in history, Jesus Christ, the ultimate hero.
Look at Esther 4…at this point in the story Esther is now the queen, wife of Xerxes. Haman manipulates the King to expose the Jews of the land by creating a law honoring the king in a way that would contradict their Jewish faith. An order is issued to exterminate the Jews. Esther’s identity is still hidden. Mordecai, the guardian of Esther, asks Esther to approach King Xerxes as an advocate of the Jews. Esther sends a reply to Mordecai that is she goes to the king uninvited, he may have her killed, unless he grants mercy. Esther knows the great risk. Then comes the defining moment of Esther’s life:
"Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (4:13-14). Mordecai calls on Esther to make a decision. It is doubtful any of us will be called to such a dramatic decision as Esther, yet that does not take away from the principle for our own life, or God’s unique will and providence for our own. God wants to make heroes out of all of us, people who will do what is right regardless of personal consequences. Make the hard decisions and live as a hero to your children, your family, your community.
A couple of things stand out in Mordecai’s challenge to Esther:
#1 God does not need Esther to accomplish his purposes. Mordecai understands this: “If you remain silent relief and deliverance will arise from another place.” This puts heroism into perspective. God chooses to use us according to his purposes. He puts us into positions of decision making in which we can stand up or take the easy route. God’s purposes will be accomplished no matter what. Heroes, at least of the ordinary human kind, are not saviors. I am blessed beyond measure to help people, but that doesn’t mean God could not choose somebody else or find another way.
#2, taking the “safe way” out is not safe. Mordecai warns Esther that if she takes the easy way out, eventually, Mordecai says, “you and your family will die.” Eventually any cowardly decision Esther makes will catch up with her. The noble way is the better way. I was having a conversation with Wayne a few weeks ago and we both agreed that there are selfish reasons for being honest: it is so much easier and straightforward, nothing to hide, nothing to remember but the truth. Sometimes I do that which I would rather not do because I have to live with myself. Esther’s decision is long term vs. short term. In the short-term it would be easier to say nothing, but in the long-term silence will cause her family to suffer.
#3, Mordecai pushes Esther into doing the right thing. He helps create his own heros in Esther. Phil came to see me a week ago, visiting his family from Texas. Phil made a lot of tough decisions in his life to overcome disadvantages. I admire Phil. He has a wonderful family, an education, a good job, his own home, a child that he loves. The most important thing to Phil is his faith. He is quite conservative and doesn’t understand all the decisions of his friends, even his Christian friends. Phil is one of my heros. Why does Phil come to see me. I had at least a small measure in pushing him to take the hard road. He did it. I encourage a lot of people to stand up and live a life of faith, and many don’t. But some do. We often talk about parents striving to do the right thing to be heroes to children, but why not the other way, too, for children to be heoroes to parents… parents have a profound impact in helping to shape their children. Mordecai, the parent figure of Esther, helps create a hero in Esther. I like what one person said about being a hero: The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else. (Umberto Eco). I would not say heros are heros by mistake, but they need help, they need encouragement. This is what Mordecai does for Esther. For some of you, this is the only message God wants you to hear today: Be somebodies Mordecai: there is somebody in your life that you are in a position to challenge them to do what is right, to stand up for their faith, to make a hard decision. Your calling, like Mordecai, is to help create a hero.
#4: “underline “for such a time as this.” It’s true that God does not need me or you or anyone else to accomplish his purposes, but on the other hand, each one of us has a unique opportunity to stand up for that which is right because of our gifts, our opportunities, our position, our location. Grandparents are in a unique position to take on responsibilities for grandparents like nobody else can. One of my heros is my father. If I did not have the story of Esther and this verse of scripture, I am not so sure I could serve as the pastor of this same church where my father so admirably served for 43 years. The key words are “for such a time as this.” The biggest difference between my father and me is the vast difference between then and now. This is a different time, and this is the time the Lord is calling me to serve. My father served at a different time, not harder or easier, not more or less needs, but different. You are called to serve God today, you all have a history, a life situation, which have molded you and shaped you, but for this time you are called. And you will have to make decisions, “For such a time as this” you are called to make a decision when you are confronted with opportunities, choices… take the courageous way….
Esther has other characteristics I’d like to consider and how they fit into Esther’s noble quality/heroic character…One of the famous characteristics is that she is beautiful. READ 2:7. Later, she is married to the king, and from his perspective, she is a trophy wife. But her beauty is not what makes Esther a hero. Her beauty is simply a part of who she is, a fact. We all have facts about us… they may be admirable, perhaps even had to be developed… such as athletic skills, musical talents, speaking ability, we all have that which is good and positive, but like Esther’s beauty, it is not what makes a person a hero. A hero is how you respond during a defining moment, when a choice needs to be made. Making a last second shot to win a basketball game is a low level sort of hero…. A beautiful woman or a buff man is not a hero by virtue of looks…
Esther is tactful, intelligent, and it is her abilities that lead to her rising to the top of her world, but even this does not make her a hero, she obviously has some very god given natural abilities and skills of organization, of thinking, tactfulness, wisdom… READ 5:8… You may have carpentry skills, cooking skills, your skills may help define your opportunities, but it is the decisions you make during the defining moments that creates a hero. Your skills help shape your opportunities, but how your respond in that defining moment is what determines your character.
We need heros: not perfect people who accomplish great things, but those who are willing to give regardless of the outcome. Nobody can define themselves as a hero, that’s up to others, yet each of us can prepare ourselves to do that which is right when confronted with a choice. We can declare Esther is a hero because she had a choice, not a hero because she succeeded, but a hero because she was willing to risk her life. This is Esther’s incredible response: Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." I have found those words to be among the most encouraging to me in all of scripture: If I die, I die. That is faith. That is putting the decision into God’s hands. It is not success that defines a hero, it is faithfulness to God. To do that which is right when there is an easy way out. We need heros like Esther. God will accomplish his purposes one way or another, but he gives us opportunities to make a difference. We need courageous people who will risk. I’ll end with words of encouragement to do the right thing even when its difficult – Beth Moore:
Count it all joy, Dear One
When life gets hard.
God is doing something HUGE!
He is also proving that you are NOT a fake.
Be brave, Mighty Warrior,
Your God is with you!
When waves are crashing,
Stand to your feet,
Throw your head back
And feel the wind of the Spirit!
God is painting a masterpiece with multi-colored trials.
Go forth and display DIVINE SPECIAL EFFECTS
To the great glory of God
You CAN do it!