A thought occurred to me as I was reading through Esther last week. In case you're not familiar with the story, let me summarize. King Xerxes of Persia holds a beauty pageant to choose a Queen for himself. It might seem like a weird way to choose a wife but Xerxes did many weird things and had many weird laws. One such weird law was that anyone who approached the king for any reason without first being summoned by the King would be put to death. Back to the pageant, Esther is chosen for her beauty. Though she pretends to be Persian, she is secretly Jewish and her real name is Hadassah. Haman, the king's right hand man is basically Hitler version 1.0 and he sets a royal decree in motion to kill all of the Jews in Persia. He feeds some lies to King Xerxes to get his approval. Esther and her cousin Mordecai find out and are heartbroken. That's pretty much what you need to know.
Esther finds herself in a dilemma. If she doesn't do something, her people will be massacred. However, the honeymoon is over and Xerxes has stopped summoning Esther before him. It's been a month since she last saw her husband. If she goes before him and he is in one of his moods then she will end up dead. Did I mention that the last Queen was banished because she wouldn't dance for him and his drunken buddies? What should she do? What should she do?
You don't really have to think hard on this one to know what the right thing to do is. Let's see, she can sit back and do nothing and watch her family and people be slaughtered or she can stick her neck out there and try to save them with her position as Queen. Obviously, she should take the risk to save her people. Its a no brainer. In fact, I think it was obvious to Esther what the right thing to do was.
The question wasn't, "What should she do?" The question was, "What would she do?" She knew the obvious answer of what was right. But she was terrified of doing it. Taking action would put her in danger. It would risk her life. It was obviously right, but it was certainly not easy. It was frightening.
I think we can all relate to that. Honestly, most of the time, we know what the right thing to do is don't we? We may have to put a little thought into it, but the answers are usually obvious. Don't steal. Don't cheat. Don't take advantage. Don't lie. Right and wrong tend to be pretty basic and simple in our every day circumstances. We can debate the moral choice of the "Would you lie to the Nazi's to hide Jews in your attic?" scenario in philosophy class, but the choices we face day to day are a lot more vanilla than that.
I forgot (or was too lazy) to do my homework. Should I lie to the teacher and give an excuse to get an extra day to finish?
This guy is offering me a better deal if I pay him cash under the table. Money is tight, should I do it?
Someone hurt me then apologized. Should I forgive them or get revenge?
The right answers are usually painfully obvious. They're obvious, but not easy. Esther knew the right thing to do but she was too scared to do it. Yet, in the end she made the right decision. Why? Take a look.
[Mordecai] also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to urge her to go into the king's presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people. -- Esther 4:8
In the end, it took the prodding and urging of her cousin Mordecai to push Esther over the line to make the right decision. She knew the right thing to do. She needed to hear someone else say it as well. She needed encouragement. She needed a push. She needed tough love. She needed some help from her friends.
We all need help to make the right decisions sometimes. There will be plenty of times where our own fear, pride, selfishness, or whatever tempt us into taking the low road and the easy way out. It's those moments when the push from a friend can make a huge difference.
As Christians, this means we need to do two things. First, we need to surround ourselves with Christian friends and community. This doesn't mean we can't have non-Christian people in our lives, but it does mean that we need to make an effort to be regularly connecting and close with other believers. We need Mordecai's. We need people in our lives who know us and the issues we are facing well so well that they can give us those needed shoves in the right direction when we begin to falter.
Second, we need to be paying attention to our friends and family enough that we can spot when they're convictions are beginning to waver. We need to be bold enough and care enough to step in and say what they need to hear. We need to be Mordecai. This will mean we need to call them out on their mistakes sometimes. We'll need to urge them to fix their problems and point out the right decisions. It won't always be a fun job, but its needed.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. -- Hebrews 10:25
Knowing the right thing is easy sometimes. It's doing it that can be difficult. So let's push each other to do what is right as Hebrews says. If we all do, I think we'll be able to get by with a little help from our friends.