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Devotions

Virtue Over Vanity
November 12, 2017

Virtue​ ​Over​ ​Vanity

Esther​ ​1:1-22

King​ ​Xerxes​ ​was​ ​in​ ​the​ ​middle​ ​of​ ​throwing​ ​an​ ​elaborate,​ ​wine-filled​ ​banquet​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​both honor​ ​many​ ​key​ ​Persian​ ​leaders,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​commence​ ​war​ ​strategies​ ​to​ ​invade​ ​Greece.​ ​This was​ ​a​ ​king​ ​full​ ​of​ ​pride​ ​and​ ​impulsivity​ ​-​ ​two​ ​things​ ​that​ ​don’t​ ​go​ ​well​ ​when​ ​mixed​ ​with​ ​an intoxicated​ ​state​ ​of​ ​mind.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​well​ ​aware​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fact​ ​that​ ​it​ ​was​ ​against​ ​Persian​ ​customs​ ​for Queen​ ​Vashti​ ​to​ ​show​ ​herself​ ​before​ ​a​ ​public​ ​gathering​ ​of​ ​men,​ ​yet​ ​he​ ​still​ ​called​ ​for​ ​her​ ​to make​ ​an​ ​appearance​ ​before​ ​his​ ​all-male​ ​celebration.​ ​He​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​parade​ ​his​ ​stunning​ ​wife​ ​- adorned​ ​in​ ​her​ ​royal​ ​crown​ ​and​ ​finest​ ​linens​ ​-​ ​in​ ​an​ ​effort​ ​to​ ​show​ ​off​ ​another​ ​form​ ​of​ ​his​ ​wealth and​ ​success.

Vashti​ ​was​ ​put​ ​in​ ​a​ ​very​ ​difficult​ ​predicament​ ​between​ ​her​ ​nation’s​ ​sacred​ ​customs​ ​and​ ​her king/husband’s​ ​command.​ ​In​ ​either​ ​choice,​ ​she​ ​would​ ​be​ ​breaking​ ​strict​ ​procedures.
It
​ ​would​ ​have​ ​been​ ​much​ ​easier​ ​to​ ​give​ ​in​ ​and​ ​step​ ​into​ ​the​ ​doors​ ​of​ ​that​ ​room​ ​of​ ​drunken officials.​ ​She​ ​wouldn’t​ ​have​ ​had​ ​to​ ​enrage​ ​her​ ​husband​ ​AND​ ​she​ ​would​ ​have​ ​been​ ​praised​ ​and adored​ ​by​ ​a​ ​multitude​ ​of​ ​men!​ ​But​ ​Vashti​ ​was​ ​a​ ​woman​ ​of​ ​virtue,​ ​and​ ​she​ ​refused​ ​to​ ​lower​ ​her standards​ ​and​ ​break​ ​protocol.​ ​She​ ​was​ ​not​ ​willing​ ​to​ ​go​ ​against​ ​the​ ​basic​ ​principles​ ​she​ ​stood for​ ​just​ ​so​ ​that​ ​Xerxes​ ​could​ ​strike​ ​awe​ ​and​ ​jealousy​ ​into​ ​the​ ​hearts​ ​of​ ​his​ ​followers​ ​by​ ​way​ ​of her​ ​outward​ ​beauty.​ ​She​ ​didn’t​ ​care​ ​about​ ​receiving​ ​lavish​ ​compliments.​ ​Vashti​ ​had​ ​to​ ​have known​ ​that​ ​her​ ​denial​ ​would​ ​be​ ​accompanied​ ​by​ ​anger​ ​and​ ​harsh​ ​consequences,​ ​but​ ​she​ ​did not​ ​waver​ ​on​ ​keeping​ ​herself​ ​virtuous.​ ​She​ ​recognized​ ​that​ ​virtue​ ​was​ ​not​ ​worth​ ​sacrificing​ ​for vanity.

We,​ ​like​ ​Vashti,​ ​may​ ​be​ ​asked​ ​in​ ​some​ ​situations​ ​to​ ​compromise​ ​our​ ​beliefs​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​appease the​ ​crowd.​ ​We​ ​may​ ​feel​ ​pressured​ ​and​ ​even​ ​tempted​ ​to​ ​do​ ​so​ ​because​ ​it​ ​will​ ​get​ ​us​ ​positive attention​ ​and​ ​keep​ ​us​ ​out​ ​of​ ​negative​ ​conflict​ ​with​ ​those​ ​around​ ​us.​ ​But​ ​what​ ​it​ ​all​ ​comes​ ​down to​ ​is​ ​what​ ​you​ ​value​ ​more​ ​-​ ​what​ ​others​ ​think​ ​of​ ​you​ ​or​ ​what​ ​the​ ​Lord​ ​thinks​ ​of​ ​you.​ ​If​ ​it’s​ ​others’ perspectives​ ​you’re​ ​concerned​ ​about,​ ​you’re​ ​choosing​ ​to​ ​honor​ ​worldly​ ​vanity​ ​-​ ​excessive​ ​pride in​ ​oneself.​ ​But​ ​if​ ​you​ ​make​ ​God’s​ ​opinion​ ​the​ ​only​ ​one​ ​that​ ​truly​ ​counts,​ ​you’re​ ​taking​ ​a​ ​path​ ​of virtue​ ​-​ ​behavior​ ​of​ ​righteous​ ​moral​ ​standards.​ ​This​ ​may​ ​not​ ​always​ ​be​ ​the​ ​most​ ​appealing​ ​path, and​ ​it​ ​may​ ​not​ ​always​ ​get​ ​you​ ​the​ ​answer​ ​you​ ​want.​ ​But​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​the​ ​day​ ​-​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of your​ ​LIFE​ ​-​ ​what’s​ ​more​ ​important?​ ​Virtue​ ​or​ ​vanity?

Pray:​ ​​“Lord,​ ​I​ ​know​ ​that​ ​every​ ​day​ ​I​ ​face​ ​choices​ ​that​ ​have​ ​the​ ​potential​ ​to​ ​pull​ ​me​ ​away​ ​from You.​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​make​ ​the​ ​decision​ ​in​ ​everything​ ​that​ ​exemplifies​ ​a​ ​behavior​ ​that​ ​is​ ​like​ ​You​ ​-​ ​holy and​ ​virtuous.​ ​If​ ​I​ ​am​ ​ever​ ​tempted​ ​to​ ​fall​ ​into​ ​a​ ​choice​ ​of​ ​vanity,​ ​I​ ​pray​ ​that​ ​You​ ​would​ ​redirect me​ ​and​ ​help​ ​me​ ​to​ ​prioritize​ ​my​ ​values.”