Summary: I am only one,but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
TEXT: Esther Chapter 4
TITLE: ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
In an overpopulated world, it’s easy to underestimate the significance of one. There are so many people who have so many gifts and skills who are already doing so many things that are so important, who needs me? What can I as one individual contribute to the overwhelming needs of our world, our church, etc.?
But the truth is, you are you—the only you in all the world. Nobody can do the things that God has called and gifted you to do. Edward Everett Hale puts it this way:
I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything;
but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
There is only one you. You’re the only person with your exact heritage, your precise series of events in the pilgrimage and sufferings of life that have brought you to this hour. You’re the only one with your personal convictions, your makeup, your skills, your appearance, your touch, your voice, your style, your surroundings, your sphere of influence—you’re the only one.
History is full of accounts of single individuals who have made a difference. Think of the military battles that have turned on the axis of one heroic person. Think of the artists and the contribution of their individual lives, from Michelangelo and da Vinci to Brahms and Beethoven. Think of the scientists, the inventors, the explorers, and the technological experts who have literally changed the course of history. Think of the courageous preachers down through time who have stood alone in the gap and made a difference. The face of the church was changed by significant individuals—men like Augustine, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Spurgeon, Moody, and Graham, to name only a few.
Or look at it from another angle, think of the difference one vote can make. Come voting time, many neglect to exercise one of the greatest privileges of democracy, thinking that their vote makes no difference.
•In 1654, one vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England;
•In 1649, one vote caused Charles I of England to be executed;
•In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German;
•In 1839, one vote elected Marcus Morton governor of Massachusetts;
•In 1845, one vote brought Texas into the union;
•In 1868, one vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment.
•In 1875, one vote changed France form a monarchy to a republic;
•In 1876, one vote gave Rutherford B. Hayes the united States presidency;
•In 1923, one vote gave Adolph Hitler control of the nazi party;
•In 1941, one vote saved the Selective Service System just 12 weeks before Pearl Harbor!
When I read God’s Word, I don’t find that many stories about great crusades and city-wide revivals and mass meetings where God’s attention rested on an entire country or a whole community. More often, I find individual men and women who made a difference. From Genesis to Revelation, we see God’s hand on the lives of individuals who thought and said and did what was right—regardless—and as a result, history was made.
Only one statesman stands for right and a country is saved. Only one strong-willed and determined citizen says, “I stand against this evil,” & a community ramps up morally and changes its direction. And, as we shall see, only one woman decided it was worth the risk to break with protocol and speak her mind, and a nation was preserved.
The Jews have been threatened with extermination. Wicked Haman has influenced King Ahasuerus, with his promises. “Because of this plan I have set up, it is possible for me to pour this money into your treasuries and for us to rid the land of these people who will not bow down and worship you as the king.”
What terror this struck in their hearts, what fear in their minds! “How can we continue?” “How can we fight this?” This is the law of the Medes and the Persians. When an edict was set forth in that era, it was final. Nobody could change this plan, certainly no Jew. It seemed like a hopeless situation.
Yet in the midst of all this, God was not sleeping. In His sovereign plan, He determined one person would make the difference. Again, one individual would stand in the gap. On this occasion, her name is Esther.
Refer to verse 1. When in bankruptcy or living with a dread disease or having buried a family member or having gone through some terrible disaster in one’s city, people in Esther’s day would commonly wear loose-fitting, dark-colored coarse garments made of goat’s hair, which hung on them like a large gunnysack. On top of that, they would take ashes from the remains of a fire and throw them on themselves so they would be covered with them and appear ghastly and unclean. Sometimes they would even sit in the midst of a cold ash heap and throw the ashes on themselves as a vivid expression of their grief.