We are reading the book of Esther this week in our minibible college study. There are many lessons packed into this short book. One lesson that is speaking to me is "influence". There are several illustrations in the story of Esther of key people being influenced by other people into making decisions or taking certain actions. The question might be framed this way: "Who are you listening to?" The king of Persia, Xerxes, listens to a wicked prime minister named Haman and issued a universal command to destroy all the Jews. The beautiful young Jewish woman, Esther, listened to her adopted father Mordecai and concealed her Jewish identity even as she became queen of all Persia. When she does reveal that truth about her identity later in the story it is powerful to save the Jewish people. Haman listens to the counsel of his wife and family and decides to build a gallows to hang Mordecai and this gallows ends up being used to hang him instead! I think we need to check and guard the voices we allow to influence us and lead us to act, to speak and to decide. It is interesting to note that the king changes his listening pattern when his heart is changed by the love of Esther and it is interesting to consider the forces that cause us to change our listening orientation as well.
Who are you listening to? What are their possible ulterior motives? We need to surround ourselves with voices of integrity and spiritual health and we need to fill our minds and hearts with the words of the Lord, Himself. We need voices that inspire trust and become foundations for wisdom.
8 Then Haman approached King Xerxes and said, "There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces of your empire who keep themselves separate from everyone else. Their laws are different from those of any other people, and they refuse to obey the laws of the king. So it is not in the king's interest to let them live. 9 If it please the king, issue a decree that they be destroyed, and I will give 10,000 large sacks of silver to the government administrators to be deposited in the royal treasury."
10 The king agreed, confirming his decision by removing his signet ring from his finger and giving it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 The king said, "The money and the people are both yours to do with as you see fit."