“And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her. So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace….The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins….”
– Esther 2:15b-17b, NKJV (emphases added)
I love receiving compliments. My liking of a compliment depends on: 1. who gave it and 2. the level in which it is given. I usually get the best compliments from the people who know me best: my parents, and boy, are they ever good at giving them. 😀
Three months ago I was privileged to host a dear friend’s birthday party. My dad, who is currently teaching himself digital photography, offered to take a few shots of me hosting. Apparently his idea of few was more than 200 photos. 🙂
On our way home, I asked my dad if he could critic my hosting. Parents have a knack of “complimenting” their children because they are their offspring, but my parents do not condone such pretentiousness. They are like magic mirrors which truthfully and gently rebuke the wicked stepmother or praise the amiable Snow White in me. Usually I was in between–a Snow White stepmother–but that night, I acted more like a princess. At least in the way I hosted.
“Magaling, magaling. Mas angat ka dun sa kasama mo. Nakakatawa pa.” (You were good, good. You stood out compared to your co-host. And you were funny too)
“Angat” (stand out) stood out of all the words he said. There was something about being excellent superlatively, being cut above the rest. In my heart I thanked God for blessing me with the gift of eloquent speaking. I am also grateful to Him for placing me where I am at this moment in time to develop me holistically. As I dismounted our vehicle that night, my heart swelled with glee over what my dad just told me. For a moment I forgot about his more candid and extrovert other half waiting for us.
I showed mom the photos dad took during the party and asked me questions about the program, my former classmates, and my hosting. After a series of questions she proceeded to commenting on my attire, makeup, the venue–basically everything.
“Ang galing mo na mag make-up, ah. Aba, ang ganda ng dress ng debutante. Next time close your legs!” (You’re good at applying make-up! Wow, how beautiful the debutante’s dress.)
Since my dad failed to take a video of me hosting, mom was unable to comment precisely on my beloved skill. Compliments of people thrill me, but nothing gives me more joy than hearing God commend me. I appreciate my parents’s remarks because they know me well. Therefore it’s just right for me–or anyone else for that matter–to accept as truth what God says I am.
When I read the verses above (first paragraph) earlier this morning, I was awed. The verses gave me more reasons to love and adore Esther, the Jewish queen of Persia, even more. The Bible repeatedly mentioned the words “all” and “more than all the others…” to describe Esther. Talk about supreme beauty!
How did Esther obtain favor and grace in the sight of all who saw her? How did she earn the king’s favor? Was it because of the 1-year intensive beauty treatment she underwent? The other virgins in the king’s harem underwent treatment, too. I wish the Bible elaborated more on Esther’s life prior to her queen-ship, but later I realized, it need not write additional chapters. I learned an invaluable lesson:
Favor is earned through the working of character being built over time.
Sure some individuals are naturally gifted with some skills or physical traits, but that does not make them favorable to all people. In fact, the more a person knows and believes he is exceptionally gifted or smarter than his peers, the more he would succumb to bossiness and pride. Esther chose the narrow path of humility; she submitted to the leadership of her guardian and cousin, Mordecai. You can see it all throughout Esther (18th book of the Old Testament). A truly beautiful woman keeps her will and entire being under God’s control not because she’s weak, but because God is stronger and knows what is best ahead of her. Probably the other virgins were bossy over the eunuchs (“assistants”) assigned to them so they were instantly disliked. But not Esther. As an orphan and a captive in a foreign land, she learned how to treat others with respect and dignity. She could have seen and experienced for herself oppression–verbal, physical, or emotional–and so she decided to return the kindness to the people around her no matter how badly they treat her so as not to become like them. Therefore, her Commander-in-Chief openly commended her in His Manual.
I know there wouldn’t be a 67th book in the Bible named after me, but I am more than happy in hearing God commend me as His servant through my fellow servants. 🙂 He accepts me as I am, but I strive to earn His approval so that I “am a worker who does not need to be ashamed.” (2 Timothy 2:15) I hope that you, too, will choose to be a woman or man approved by God–a person of noble character, highly favored both by God and man. 🙂