Esther said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor with him, and if he thinks it is right, and if I am pleasing to him, let there be a decree that reverses the orders of Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, who ordered that Jews throughout all the king’s provinces should be destroyed. Esther 8:5 

I’ve heard it said that the closer you get to the top, the funnier your jokes get. It’s just human nature to listen a little closer and be a little more eager to show your enthusiasm and loyalty when you are in proximity to someone with influence and power.  

As Esther approaches the king with a final request, she’s been building up to the moment with flattery and a careful strategy to disarm him. Now, she shows deference to the king with every caveat she makes before stating her request: if it pleases you, if you’re feeling friendly, if it’s OK, if you like me… 

Esther humbles herself before the king for the sake of her people. And it works! He leaves it to her and Mordecai to carry out the additional decree, in his name, that will save the Jewish people from the genocide Haman convinced the king to enact. Once again, the king is unwilling to engage thoughtfully with the situation. 

The more earthly authority you have, the more important humility is. We need to have people in our lives who don’t have to approach us with four caveats before they can correct us. And the dignity and worthiness of other people shouldn’t be optional considerations. 

Philippians 2 is a great passage to remind us how people of faith should utilize their clout: Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (vv. 3b-5) 

Questions for reflection: 

  1. Does Esther’s situation seem familiar? Have you ever had humility forced on you? When have you had to maneuver, flatter, or laugh at bad jokes to get your needs met?  
  1. Have you ever been the one with power? Were you tempted to believe your jokes were really all funny? 
  1. Read Philippians 2:1-11. Humility doesn’t tend to happen naturally. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit and an attitude we cultivate with intention. Ask God to reveal the situations where your clout is insulating you from wise counsel and the needs of others. Also ask God to reassure you of your worth in situations where your dignity is being compromised.