Recently I attended a leadership conference where the instructor handed out envelopes to everyone in attendance. Each envelope contained a single word. The instructor explained that our envelopes contained a Word from God. Our task was to begin seeking God about this word and see what He wants to teach us. My word was “thankfulness.” I decided this was an easy one: we all have much to be thankful for and I certainly know that I could be more thankful for the blessings I enjoy. Still, I placed the card in the front of my Bible, committing to seek the Lord for any new insight.
In the meantime, let’s head back to our Esther study. This week we find (thankfully) that Esther was successful in her attempt to approach the King: “When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand,” (Esther 5:2). Now she had to decide how to ask the King to reverse a decree that he had allowed his second in charge to write and seal using his own signet ring! So, she invited the King and Haman to dinner. Can you imagine being invited to dinner as the only guest of the King and Queen? Already on an ego trip from a huge promotion, having all the royal officials bow to him and having the authority to fill in the blanks on a decree signed by the King, Haman was riding high with this invitation. “Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits,” (Esther 5:9a).
But. How often does that word come along just as everything is going well?
“But when he (Haman) saw Mordecai at the King’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home. Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. And that’s not all,” Haman added, “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the King to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the King tomorrow,” (Esther 5:9b-12).
Is Haman counting his blessings in this passage? Nope. Haman is bragging about all of his accomplishments and taking credit for every single promotion, possession and position. This passage offers the new insight to thankfulness I was asking for. Thankfulness is not bragging to others about how much better our life is than theirs, or what honors we have received. Thankfulness is about understanding how little we deserve the good things that we have been given and giving credit to the One who blesses us anyway. Thankfulness also helps others see the blessings in their lives as gifts from God too.
How can we tell the difference? Haman gives us the key in verse 13 when he says, “But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.” No matter how great our blessings, bragging gives us no satisfaction if everyone isn’t on board with how wonderful we are. Thankfulness brings satisfaction as we understand clearly who we are in comparison to who God is. Anything and everything we have is the result of grace, offered because every heart matters.
Heart Matters is a weekly column written by Angie Land, Director of the Family Life Ministries of the Lafayette Baptist Association, where she teaches Bible studies, leads marriage and family conferences and offers Biblical counseling to individuals, couples and families. Contact Angie with questions or comments at email@example.com.