Summary: Will you answer God’s call to live courageously?
Woodlawn Baptist Church
July 18, 2004
Over the course of the past several months, as I have been studying the Scriptures, I have seen over and over the providential hand of God at work. We have been watching God at work in Genesis, leading and guiding, using the actions of man to accomplish His will, and now in Esther, we are seeing the same thing again. God has so far used the sinful actions of king Ahasuerus and his wife Vashti to raise up a new queen, the Jewish girl Esther. It is a beautiful thing for the eyes of the child of God to be spiritually opened so they might see God at work in their lives. Too many believers live in a state of spiritual slumber, a condition the apostle Paul recognized when he said to the Ephesian believers that they needed to wake up. He told them they were living in perilous times, and the times in which we live today are no less perilous, so we too must wake up.
Think about Mordecai’s predicament in the closing verses of Esther 2. Bigthan and Teresh are plotting to kill king Ahasuerus, and Mordecai learns of it. Immediately he has a choice to make. Here is a battle to fight, not with swords and knives, but with decisions and words, with courage and valor. He must choose whether to let someone know or not. You might think that this is not such a battle, but it is. He has much to loose by revealing these men. If it went wrong, he could loose his own life and cost Esther her life. However, he had much to gain as well. Then, in Esther 3, Mordecai demonstrates great courage again, this time a more public courage that is even more costly than the first. Read verses 1-5 with me.
“After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. Then the king’s servants, which were in the king’s gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king’s commandment? Now it came to pass, when the spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew. And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.”
These are just the kinds of battles you and I face every day. We do not fight battles today with guns and such. The greatest battle we fight is the daily battle of whether we will live for the king or not. Will we choose to remain quiet and protect our lives? our security? our peace? A man said to me of a Christian brother one time, “I think he is afraid of dying.” That is our assessment of many people. But the truth of the matter is that most people are afraid of living, of really living. Remember the “make believe” worlds of our childhoods? We did not play games where we took our medicine and protected our investments. We took up spears and guns and swords and fought valiantly to the death. We played kickball and baseball without helmets or umpires and we got dirty and built castles and dreamed of marrying the prince or princess.
I was reminded the other night as I watched Peter Pan with my kids again how so many of us as adults have resigned ourselves to being the “good boys and girls” that we must be as adults. One man was asked what he thought it meant to be a good man. He paused for a long moment and said, “Dutiful…and separated from your heart.” Yes, we must be people of duty and responsibility, but many hide behind duty and responsibility and fail to answer God’s call to their hearts to really live with great courage.
There are many enemies of courage in our lives, and when we give in to those enemies we live in fear, and then we stop living at all. We just exist. That’s what the Israelites did when they decided they couldn’t take the Promised Land at Kadesh-Barnea. They said that there were too many giants, there was too much to risk, so they decided not to go in to take the land, and for 40 years they just existed, wandering in the wilderness waiting to die. That story isn’t in the Bible for nothing. It is there because it is a picture of what happens in our lives when we don’t exercise a courageous faith in God and conquer the land in our lives. Canaan is not a picture of heaven like we sing about. It is a picture of the abundant life that God wants us to go in and take, but to take it we must fight!