Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
At church on Sunday, we were studying the book of Esther. Mordecai is a protective father figure to this poor Jewish girl, Esther, now taken from her family and in possession of the king. But there was a time, we can infer, that Mordecai was selfishly thinking of only himself and how hard it would be to start all over again with his family by going back to Judah with the other Hebrew people when a king finally came to the throne that would let them all go back from whence they came. Mordecai chose what he knew. He chose to stay as a foreigner rather than take his family to go be free people.
The result was his family living under the control of King Xerxes who is now looking for a new wife, and his young ward, Esther, is subject to being taken by force to the palace with about 400 other unfortunate girls.
NOW. Now that this has happened to his daughter, Mordecai is now taking an interest in others too. He probably deeply regrets not taking his freedom when he had the chance to take it, and he certainly can’t take it now and abandon Esther. So he is now found pacing the palace gates every day. This is not something he did before. It is a new custom of his born out of worry. Every day Mordecai would take a walk near the courtyard of the harem to find out about Esther and what was happening to her. He now spends so much time near the palace he becomes a palace official (v. 19). He wasn’t a palace official before Esther was taken.
See what has happened? Mordecai was not thinking of his family when he had the opportunity to go back to the land of his people and didn’t take it. He was thinking of himself and how hard and uncertain it would be to live there. Staying behind was not God’s intention for Mordecai or any of his people or he wouldn’t have provided the opportunity for them to go. But since Mordecai did stay, since Mordecai did see the error he made on behalf of his whole family (or why would he have gone to the courtyard every single day?), since Mordecai’s heart changed to having more of an interest in Esther than for himself now, God worked stuff out for this guy and his family. God gives Mordecai a position as a palace official, and God makes Esther stick out in the king’s mind against the odds since there were 400 other women from which to choose.
What if Mordecai was too proud to admit looking after his own interests was just wrong? He himself tells Esther he believes deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise, but that maybe God let Esther be queen so that she and her family might saved presently.
This is a giant case of Romans 8:28 right here. God can make the most amazing things happen from even our hugest mistakes. But that doesn’t mean it’s his will for us to mess up in the first place. It just means for those who do realize their sin and then seek God out, he will do this: cause everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Had Mordecai taken his family back to Judah when he had the chance, deliverance and relief for the Jews would have come from someone else just like Mordecai said. But since Mordecai now has taken an interest in others too, God used him and his family for this purpose and turned a big mistake into a big blessing.
I know God has done this for me time and time again: turned a big mistake, a big regret into a big fat blessing. Yet, he doesn’t do that if there is no repentance and if I stay proud and selfish. But I am so glad he can. Nowhere else in the world is it possible for blessing to arise from a mistake. Typically humans just live with their mistakes and live every day with regret, discouragement, and shame.
But not so with God. God just wants me to admit, “See what I did? I am so sorry.” And then watch HIM work it out for good.
For example, there’s countless numbers of babies alive today to prove this is true. A proud young girl who didn’t heed her parents’ instructions turns out to have the baby that family can’t imagine life without. But there’s also families where this is not the case and those parents become resentful, the daughter bitter, and her child scorned.
I prefer the former to the latter. Give God my mistakes and let him Romans 8:28 them out. And, furthermore, I’d like to Philippians 2:3-4 all the time and avoid messes in the first place. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Thank you for what you can do for me when I mess up! Thank you for this historical account of you working things together for the good of those who trust you on a huge scale like you did in Esther’s day. Thank you for also doing it on a much smaller scale for little me all the time. Thank you for your instructions to keep me from getting into trouble, and thank you for not holding it against me when I do. I love you and praise you and pray for your help and guidance in Jesus’ name. Amen.