Monday, June 11, 2007

Hanging the hatred of Haman in me

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Esther 7, 8, 9, 10

Esther 5:9 (NIV)
9 Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he 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.

Esther 7:8-10 (NIV)
8 Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?” As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A gallows seventy-five feet high stands by Haman’s house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.” The king said, “Hang him on it!” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.

Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV)
[Jesus said,] “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”

Good morning!

Shortly after Jeff and I moved to Dallas, Texas, to attend seminary, a new night-time soap opera called Dallas made its mark in television history. The story of the Ewings, a family whose fortune was made in the drilling and manufacturing of crude oil, became a Friday evening phenomenon. Before the age of video recording, people stopped what they were doing each week just to catch the next episode of the Ewing family’s ongoing saga. While there were some really cutthroat characters, the one person everybody loved to hate was J. R. Ewing. The oldest son of Jock and Ellie Ewing, J. R. had inherited his fortune and was proud of it. He was a sly and cunning businessman, who knew how to get what he wanted when he wanted it. J. R. took what he could get and would stop at nothing to get his way. He left a trail of deceit and broken hearted people everywhere he went. One of the series cliffhangers provided a lot of speculation and wonder as the world waited with baited breath to learn who shot J. R.

Haman is the man we all love to hate in the Book of Esther. He was an arrogant, evil soul, consumed with pride and a self-serving attitude that carried the aroma of a scared skunk on a two-lane country road. One can smell the stench of evil a mile away. This man, who believed he was better than all the others, wielded self-avowed power and authority over many innocent lives. Haman was a coward and a fool. We can learn a lot from this man’s story, if we’re willing to take a closer look at him. Is it possible that a little piece of Haman exists in you and me?

The Jewish community in Susa was about to be annihilated through the sneaky and cunning work of Haman. He had managed to pull the wool over the king’s eyes; yet Mordecai could see the truth smacking him in the face. Mordecai knew what he must do. Rather than take the issue into his own hands and act, Mordecai fasted and prayed before the Lord. He got word to his young cousin, Esther, and with the prayers of her people, she found the courage and strength to ask the king to spare her life and the lives of her people. God single-handedly foiled the evil plot of a self-absorbed, haughty man. Haman lost his life on the gallows he had constructed for Mordecai. Why did Haman hate Mordecai so? Because Mordecai refused to pay Haman honor. Mordecai loved the Lord God Almighty with his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and refused to raise up any man, including the king.

There is nothing harder than to show love and kindness to someone who truly seems to hates you. We make excuses to avoid these people, while squinting our eyes and murmuring about them behind their backs. Mordecai could not be controlled by Haman’s wrath. He didn’t seem to care that Haman was large and in charge. As far as Mordecai was concerned, Haman did not deserve his respect. Mordecai chose to pray and fast, allowing God to handle the evil in this man’s heart. Because Mordecai trusted God to effect change, He did not place his fear on what he could see with his own eyes; he trusted the Lord to resolve the situation and reveal the truth for what it is.

We must learn how to hate the sin and love the sinner. Jesus said that we must learn to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. I need to hang the hatred of Haman in me out to dry. It has no place inside my heart. My prayer today is that I will allow the Lord to handle the evil that seems to swim around me today. I am asking the Lord to teach me how to love the ones who resent me; those who wish to bring evil and harm to my life. He can fight all my battles, when I’m willing to give it to Him and let it go. Are you holding a little hatred in your heart that needs to be hung out to dry? Ask the Lord God Almighty to help you truly love your enemy this morning.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: A Holy Spirit intervention! It is impossible to learn to love our enemies on our own steam. We need to let our hatred go, as we seek the Lord’s heart to forgive and forget. Haman was hung out to dry because he simply couldn’t get over himself. If you are feeling just a little bit proud today, don’t let your heart end up like his. Give your pain to the Lord, and let Him teach you how to love the sinner, while hating the sin.
© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding
All rights reserved
Articles may not be printed in any “for profit” publication without further permission by the author. Articles may be freely distributed via e-mail, reprinted in church bulletins or in other non-profit publications without further permission. Please keep this copyright and Web Site information intact with copied articles. Articles are sent originally to subscribers only. You may have received a forwarded or reprinted copy.