Proverbs 29:11 “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in til afterwards.”
If you are new at reading the Bible, or if you ever need a “jump start” to get back into reading the Bible, I suggest you take a few minutes to read the book of Esther. This is a great story! It is ten short chapters and can be read in one sitting. It is a fascinating story with all the components of a fairytale, though it is true. It is the rags to riches story of Esther, who, by winning a beauty contest, becomes a queen. There is the battle of good against evil, with two very interesting characters- Mordecai and Haman. There is romance and murder. It has a simply great plot with a very satisfying ending. I’ve read this story many times, and love it every time I read it.
Upon my recent reading, I was struck by a part of the character of Esther that convicted me. When Esther gets the news that her people have been doomed, and it is up to her to try and save them (chapter 4), she realizes that she must go talk to her husband, the king. This seems simple enough, but it was easier said than done. She had not seen the king in over a month, and even though she had been married for 5 years, she could not approach her husband until he called for her. To enter his presence unheeded could mean death. Still, she knew what she had to do, and she felt a great urgency to beg for the life of her friends and relatives. Nevertheless, she took three days to fast and pray before she went to see the king. It worked, she gained an audience with the ruler. Now, she had a chance to pour her heart out to him, but again she refrained and asked him to attend a banquet that day. At the banquet, instead of telling her troubles, she invited the king back the next day to another banquet. It was at the second banquet that she finally spoke to her husband about all that was on her heart. When he heard the details, he took action. By the time she lay down to sleep that evening, her problem had been solved, her cousin was promoted to serve with her in the palace, her people were protected, and her enemy was dead. Now that’s a good day! I believe all this came about because she was a very wise young woman who was willing to wait until the timing was right, even when her heart was breaking and she felt hopeless and very afraid.
I admire Esther so much for her patience, probably because I struggle in this area. I have a “take-charge” personality that wants to get problems solved NOW. I am constantly trying to pull in the reigns on myself. I see what needs to be done (so I think), and I want to set right out and get it done! I consider myself an organizer and a visionary, but I am not so great at waiting to make sure that I am doing things the right way, and for the right reasons. My kind and wonderful husband has helped me so much as he has, through example, taught me that I am not the Moral Police, and it is not my duty to fix everything around me the moment I see a problem. If this personality describes you too, then let’s look at Esther and see how to respond correctly when we feel that we need to change things.
- When a problem comes up unexpectedly, the first thing to do is to pray about it. When Esther realized that her people would be destroyed, she did not take off sobbing and run into the king’s room, throw herself down in a heap, and beg for the life of the Jews. When she was perplexed and distraught, she did not run immediately to her husband, but to God. Ladies, when a problem comes into our lives, and we do not know what in the world we should do, the first step is to run to God. Take some time with the Lord, calm down, and pray over the situation. The bigger the problem, the more time we need with the Lord. Esther took three days and three nights to fast and pray. Her problem was not solved during her fast, but when she was given the wisdom and understanding to know how to take the next step.
- Take the time to carefully plan your speech. Write down exactly what you are going to say if necessary. Having a plan helps when discussing difficult issues. Nothing is so urgent that it needs to be dealt with on the spot. In fact, if something is important, it deserves a planned place and time to say it. When Esther came to speak to her husband, he was most likely with his employees. She did not impulsively blurt out her woes right there in front of others. She invited him to have lunch with her so that she could speak to him privately. She had an amazing restraint even when he was extremely upset.
- Wait until the time is right. Even at the banquet, when she could have told her husband all that was on her heart, she did not feel completely ready; so, instead of saying the wrong thing, she postponed their discussion another day. Can you imagine how she must have wanted to simply fall apart and beg the king to help her? Yet, she remained calm and waited for the best opportunity to come. Knowing the right time to discuss things with others is a great, great help in successful relationships. If you feel hot under the collar that is definitely the wrong time to “have it out” with a loved one or friend. Care enough about the relationship to wait until the proper time to discuss things. How many relationships have been destroyed, I wonder, because somebody had to get something “off their chest” right then and there! Step back and wait.
- Refrain from accusations and finger pointing. Esther could have said, “Why did you make a decree to kill all the Jews? What in the world were you thinking?” But, instead she pleaded with the king to save the lives of her friends and relatives. She gave him opportunity to be the hero instead of the villain. How you say something is as important as what you say. We must ask ourselves, are we trying to solve a problem, or are we trying to make others feel guilty? The guilt thing is always a bad idea and never gets you anywhere. Yes, you may get an immediate problem solved, but in the process you have lost trust, and eventually you will lose a relationship if you resort to guilt. Do not put others on the defense by blaming them for your problems.
- Only talk about the problem with the one who can fix it. The king had the power and the authority to fix Esther’s problem. No one else in the kingdom could save the Jews. Esther did not go up and down the halls of the palace and tell every servant, concubine, and advisor why she was so upset. They had no way to help her. When you have a problem, just tell the person who can fix it. Tell your husband, but don’t tell your 25 closest friends. Counsel with your pastor, but not every member in the church. make sure that you are actually trying to get a problem solved, and you are not simply trying to get sympathy from as many people as possible.
Timing is everything. I love these verses, Galatians 4:4-5 “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of the sons.” God is the Master of perfect timing. He knew exactly when Christ should come to earth, and He waited till 4,000 after the fall of man to make it happen. He waited until the right time. Aren’t we glad that our God is not an impulsive God Who does everything on a whim? We would really be in big trouble! Oh, that we could be like our Father and see the importance of right timing!
Sometimes the perfect timing means telling no one but the Lord. The women I most admire in the Bible are women with restraint; they thought before they spoke. For example, Luke 2:19. After the birth of Jesus, and all the marvelous events that took place surrounding His birth, the Bible says that His mother, Mary, kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. It is so refreshing to be around a lady who does not tell every little detail of her life as soon as it happens, to anybody willing to listen. There is a wonderful mystique about a woman who can hold her tongue. Does everybody in your world need to know all about your life? Be careful. Everyone in cyberspace does not need every small detail about your family life.
More importantly, can others trust you to keep information private? How do you rate according to Proverbs 31:11, “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.”? Every husband wants a wife who can keep their family life private. If you start to feel that your husband never tells you anything, is it possible that he thinks you are going to share it with all your friends? We must learn to restrain the impulse to talk about everything with everyone. Our children would appreciate that a great deal as would our pastors and employers.
Restraint is the greatest power on earth, and it takes a very strong woman to keep her mouth shut. Be aware when you hear the famous statements, “Well, don’t tell anybody I told you this, but…” or “This is just between you and me…” keep yourself around friends that don’t have to spread the latest news all the time; soon you will be gossiping about people. I have a very dear friend. We have been friends for years. I love being around her because I can relax, knowing that she is not going to tell me anything negative about her relatives or her other friends. She has a very responsible position at work, and she knows a lot of confidential information. She does not discuss it with me. I admire that about her. I know that she is not telling anybody else things about me either. That makes for a great friendship.
We will go a long way in gaining respect from others and favor from the Lord if we can learn when to discuss problems, with whom to share problems, and what to keep inside our hearts for God alone to know. Let’s really work on gaining some restraint in our lives. Timing is everything.