Esther 1:10-22 – Respect Others

Read Esther 1:10-22

Do you feel sorry for the queen? Did you find it surprising she was banned from the kingdom for not being obedient to her husband’s request? Or maybe you are applauding the king’s actions? I’m not sure how I feel. Surprised, I suppose. After such generosity, the king didn’t give his wife a chance. Well, he did have some help in coming to that decision. He was the king after all.

I do wonder if Queen Vashti wished she could rethink her decision to blow off the king’s request. She was probably aware that when he had had some wine he was not the same man as he otherwise was. Was that a good enough reason to ignore his command? Or perhaps she was just a headstrong woman who was having fun with her women subjects at their own party. Whatever her side of the story was, she wasn’t being obedient. There were appearances to keep and a price to pay.

Precisely. Appearances. If women got wind of the queen’s independence, there could be a shift in power and respect. The king and his advisers could not allow that. Women, even today, are still lamenting their inequality. Some cultures are more rigid than others in the separation of the sexes.

There can be no denying that men and women are different. We think differently. We see the same situation differently. We react differently. There are physical differences to be sure. Rather than be so bent on being the same, I believe we should embrace our differences and seek mutual respect.

While it appears from this story that the men wanted to be respected, it is unclear whether the men felt a similar respect to women. What is clear is that the beauty of women was what was treasured. What about women who are not particularly attractive, have a few extra pounds, or didn’t do their make up just right? Were they not worthy of admiration?

Again, I’d like to say the bottom line here is respect. We need to respect others. We can respect their boundaries, their achievements, their integrity, their beauty, their intelligence, their emotion, their personality, etc. Why can that be so hard? It isn’t really. It comes down to what we know, our mindset, our habits, our tradition.

If we stay locked in the past where women and children were to be seen and not heard, it’s a tragedy. We can learn so much from each other’s perspective. When we truly respect another human being for being who they are, the world has to be a better place. Don’t you agree?

But what about evil people? They certainly don’t deserve our respect, do they? Their actions don’t, certainly. But actions don’t make the person. Something in their life, an association, an event, a weakness, has led them to those less than acceptable actions. Maybe they need to change to earn our respect, but they certainly should not be banished from the chance at redemption.

Take some time today to think about people who are being abused, marginalized, and treated without respect. They are people. God loves them just the same as he loves you and me. Don’t they deserve our respect, too?

Let’s pray. Lord, so much of what goes on around us comes back to “keeping up appearances.” I try each day to be best I can be. I know I fall short of your desires for me. Yet you love me still. Help me to be more welcoming and loving to others who may not have it all together. I certainly don’t. I wish that respecting others would be more of a desire on my heart and for others as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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