Finally--back to our Leading Ladies series! Sorry for the hiatus! Election season puts me in a tizzy!
I'm going to trust that you are familiar enough with the story of Esther that I don't have to quote it at length. If you aren't, I would encourage you to read the book in its entirety, as it is a beneficial study (and very intriguing).
So, what kinds of things can we learn from Esther:
1: She was pure. Those chosen to 'go before the king' after he dismissed Queen Vashti were virgins. Had Esther not remained pure in her young life, she would have never been under consideration to be the new queen. But, since she'd purposed in her heart to remain pure before God, she had this opportunity. As Christians, we have an opportunity every single day to decide whether or not we will be pure--from the clothes that we wear and the way we present our bodies to the things that we listen to and shows that we watch. There may be opportunities for us to teach others about God's beautiful word, but if our lives aren't pure, we may take ourselves out of the running for helping that person's soul. How sad if we were to take opportunities away from ourselves! Sadly, though, Christians do this.
For example: if we're on our way into the movie theater to watch something that isn't wholesome and we see someone we know (who may be a struggling Christian, a babe in Christ, or a person we've been 'working on' for quite some time) -- are we negating everything we promote/teach based on the way we are acting--based on the way we're living? Our lives must be pure (and subsequently our hearts--Mt. 5:8) so that we can take hold of every opportunity to do good in God's service.
2: She used her position for God's glory. Had Esther not listened to Mordecai, the entirety of the Jewish population might have been wiped out. Mordecai so eloquently states in Esther 4:14, "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
God's providence is something that I whole-heartedly believe in, yet don't quite understand how it works in my life. Still, I trust that God has a plan. Like Esther, I believe that there are unique opportunities afforded to each of us. Perhaps you are placed in a certain job just so you can influence your co-worker. Maybe you are in a certain town so that you can help an entire population of people. Whatever your lot in life, be willing, as Esther was, to use that position to God's glory.
And note that Esther did not use her position because it was easy. She displayed an amazing amount of courage by going in to the king's chambers without being summoned--this could have gotten her killed! Still, because she was willing to put the greater good ahead of her own lot, she went in anyway--not knowing how the king would respond. Had she not been willing, people would not have been saved. Likewise, if we are not willing to boldly proclaim Jesus in our lives (to our friends, family members, co-workers, cashiers, etc.), people will not be saved.
3: She remembered who she was. This one will be similar to our last point. You see, when Esther became queen, she could have forsaken her Jewish heritage. She was beautiful, rich, and in a powerful position. Quite frankly she could be whoever she wanted to be, have whatever she wanted to have, and do whatever she wanted to do. We know, though, that she didn't. She kept Mordecai close (and listened to his council), and ultimately saved her entire 'family'.
We live in a sinful world and there's no escaping that fact. As Christians, when we go out into the world in our day to day activities, we must remember who we are. It is not ok for us to 'forget' and let a few curse words slip when talking to our co-workers or when a car pulls out in front of us. It is not ok for us to 'forget' when there's a popular movie coming out that doesn't adhere to God's guidelines for things we should think upon (Phil. 4:8). It's not ok for us to 'forget' because the weather is warm or we're taking a trip--and modest clothing just isn't practical. It isn't ok to 'forget' when we're out shopping for Christmas presents and someone cuts us off, takes too long in line, snatches the last of an item, or anything else. First and foremost, we are Christians, and we must always remember that. That is why Paul urged the brethren at Philippi to mediate on pure, lovely, true, right things. The more you meditate on something, the more likely it is to stick.
4: Her inner beauty mattered more. While Esther was beautiful, there was something else about it that made the king love her. The text tells us that not only did the king love and favor her, but so did all of the other people who came into contact with her--even the other young women who had been chosen to live in the king's palace. Now, think about what you know about beauty pageants. Are all of the beautiful contestants best friends and super nice to each other the entire time? Or is the jealousy, envy, and backbiting? Had Esther simply been outwardly beautiful, I'm sure the majority of people around her would have felt the latter--jealous, especially in light of the special treatment she was receiving. And yet, Esther is loved by all. That speaks volumes for her character!! She truly must have been a beautiful woman on the inside for every person to love her.
I believe this point is especially pertinent to parents of teenage girls. I have been extremely disappointed recently in the outfits that I'm seeing on Facebook of 'Christian' teenage girls. While I am friends with some of the girls, mostly I am seeing these immodest clothing choices put on display by their own parents.
As a former teen girl, I know how impressionable they are--especially when it comes to their bodies. Every thing that you praise or put down will stick with them for a long time. Why not, then, put a little less emphasis on their physical beauty and more on their inner beauty? Challenge them to have a pure heart--it will make enforcing a modest dress code easier. Challenge them to remember who they are--it will make the discussions about dances and parties easier. Above all, though, encourage them to beautify their hearts. Esther spent 12 months preparing for the king. Encourage your daughters to spend time preparing for their King.
This isn't an exhaustive list by any means. There are so many things we can learn from Esther. I challenge you to read more about her and find more ways to implement lessons from her life into yours.