Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Serving with Excellence

In 1860 the Pony Express was launched as a brave entrepreneurial endeavor. The service delivered the mail from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California, a distance of some 2000 miles. It took nearly 100 different riders for the mail to make the 10-day journey. However, President Lincoln’s Inaugural address was delivered in a record 7 days and 17 hours. The cost was $2.50 an ounce—extremely expensive. Riders ranged in age from 11-40 and did not weigh over 125 pounds. The longest ride was made by Bob Haslam, who rode 370 miles. Each rider was expected to ride around 75-100 miles per day. Though the advertisements recruited riders that must be willing to “risk their lives,” there wasn’t much action. 99% of the riders just rode their horses in mundane and ordinary circumstances in silence with no spectators, yet these men did their job with excellence.

That same thing can be said of most of us who live out our Christian faith in very mundane ways with no lime light or spectators. However, if you live your life for God, it makes no difference who sees or who doesn’t because you are living your life for God.

Mordecai, who is found in the intriguing story of Esther, is one such man. Mordecai had an enemy who hated him. This enemy was Haman, a powerful official in King Xerxes’ kingdom who hated Jews like Mordecai. Haman, through deception, devised a plan to kill Mordecai and the entire Jewish population. He was so sure of his plans that he prepared 75 feet gallows to hang Mordecai on. However, there was one detail that Haman overlooked—Mordecai’s God.

Just as Haman was gaining the power he needed to eliminate Mordecai, God intervened in his sovereign way. The king could not sleep, so he called for the record books to be read to him. In so doing he discovered that Mordecai had saved the Kings’ life by uncovering a plot to kill the king. The King demanded that something be done to honor Mordecai. The king asked, “Who is in the court?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows he had erected for him. His attendants answered, "Haman is standing in the court."
"Bring him in," the king ordered. When Haman entered, the king asked him, "What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?" (Esther 6:4-6)

Haman is so arrogant that he actually believes that the king is preparing to honor him, so he gives him a wonderful list: "For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king's most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, 'This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!'" (Esther 6:7-9)

Haman was humiliated as he led Mordecai through the streets and proclaimed “This is Mordecai the man the Kings desires to honor.” This would have been a pretty heady moment for most, but not for Mordecai because he was committed to living his life in excellence for God. The next verse is an eloquent testimony to the life of Mordecai:

“Afterward Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.” (Esther 6:12)

Alexander Raleigh wrote:

A proud ambitious man would have said to himself, “No more of the king’s gate for me! I shall direct my steps to the king’s palace, and hold myself ready for honor…which surely must now be at hand.” Mordecai seems to have said with himself, “If these things are designed for me in God’s good providence, they will find me. But they must seek me, for I shall not seek them. Those who confer them know my address: “Mordecai, at the king’s gate,’ will still find me. Let the crowd wonder and disperse. I have had enough of their incense. Let Haman go whither he will, he is in the hands of the Lord. Let my friends at home wait; they will all hear in time…I can wait best at the old place and in the accustomed way—At the Kings’ Gate.”[1]

[1] Alexander Raleigh, The Book of Esther (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1880), 155-156.

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