Esther 7: 1-6; 9:20-22 & Matthew 19:27-30
Today we begin the first part of a three part teaching on ‘Being Blessed to be a Blessing’. We will focus on three areas of ‘blessing’.
Being blessed by our abilities, being blest by the Spiritual gifts given to us and today being blessed by our circumstances. But interwoven throughout these three talks is how we commit and respond to our blessings for the sake of others.
We sometimes say, ‘there but for the grace of God, go I’ – and it is usually spoken in response to the blessed situation we find ourselves in when compared to folks with broken relationships, sickness, poverty, the ravages of war, homelessness, statelessness or lack of a whole range of things. It is also an acknowledgement that it is God, not us, who is in control while not necessarily saying that we are favoured by God.
But whether our circumstances are positive or not, they should not take away all of our choices.
Admittedly I am saying this from a very advantaged point of view, where hunger, homelessness and poverty are not present. But even negative circumstances can help us forge a change for the better as we use them to our advantage.
So it was with Queen Ester. On the surface things look good – a poor Jewish slave girl becomes the King’s favourite. She is given a new status, even a new identity and wants and needs for little – or so it seems.
Her Jewish people have a powerful enemy in Haman – part of King Xerxes’ court. He wants to destroy the Jewish nation – which would include Ester if it was revealed she was the niece of the Jewish man – Mordecai.
But how can she expose Haman’s plot and not expose herself, or run the risk of running fowl of this powerful yet impulsive husband – King Xerxes.
But where there was no one else in a position to possibly influence the King – she risks everything – She is a privileged individual of a persecuted nation, but with great personal risk as well as she becomes the change-maker her people need.
Show the picture of Esther.
This picture of Esther painted by Jean Francois Portaels [hanging in the New South Wales Art Gallery] shows her anxiety, yet her resolve – a stature not born of an inherited royal line but of Christ-like royalty – willing to sacrifice all for her people.
She is blessed by God for being a blessing to others and lauded by people for the last 2500 years.
Then we come to the Gospel reading, where a bunch of smelly fishermen and neither affluent or influential disciples meet with Jews. Yet, despite poorer circumstances – they have much to lose by following their new path with Jesus – their families, their friends, their livelihoods.
As Peter says – we have left everything to follow you!
Changing our circumstances, stepping out of the boat in trust, can lead to great things – new circumstances, new environments, new surroundings and new opportunities.
The blessing of the circumstances we find ourselves in can give us the means to work from within them or to be a springboard to move beyond them.
Our example is in Jesus himself. He intercedes in Heaven on our behalf, like Esther, in a different royal court.
Yet he was willing to leave that court, that circumstance, that surroundings, to provide a new opportunity on earth – not for himself but for us, for the redemption of our wrong doings and for the eternal life of our souls.
For us, too, our circumstances are truly a blessing if we use them to move forward in our journey. Our circumstances should not define us, but enable us to see the possibilities beyond where we are.
Like Jesus, the secret of the blessing here is to be generous, to be bold, to be faithful and to trust God to be with us on the way.
As God promised the faithful Abraham, way back in Genesis 12, he promises this to us today.
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse, and all people on earth will be blessed through you.”