Profession and Practice
Esther 3:4
Now it came to pass, when they spoke daily to him, and he listened not to them, that they told Haman…

The favourites of fortune are generally remarkable for their pride. Especially is this the case with those whom despots delight to honour. Forgetting the worthlessness of the preference to which they owe their promotion - being sometimes nothing more than a passing whim - they rashly lay claim to universal homage. Haman is therefore the representative of a numerous class, which is not likely soon to become extinct. Mordecai in this instance resolves upon a manly course. He will not join the multitude in feeding the vanity of an inflated upstart. Neither threatening nor persuasion is able to overcome his steadfastness. What could have been Mordecai's reason for his present conduct? We may well imagine that he had more reasons than one, and that the combined force of several had influenced his decision.

1. Haman possessed a despicable character. Mordecai could not have bowed to him without doing violence to his own nature. He knew the man - his insolent bearing, his mean spirit, his cruel disposition - and he recoiled from him with unconquerable loathing. And he was right. There are men whom to admire is a degradation, whom to serve involves the ruin of our manhood. They may possess brilliant parts, they may occupy high positions, they may enjoy popular favour; but in a moral point of view they are the pests of society.

2. Haman claimed Divine honours. The court officials prostrated themselves in the dust at his feet, and he regarded such obeisance as his due. How could Mordecai, a worshipper of the Most High, unite in such an extravagant demonstration of servility, even though the object of it had been the worthiest instead of the basest of mankind? To him it was a matter of conscience, and he calmly awaited the consequences. We have here a striking exemplification of PROFESSION AND PRACTICE in perfect harmony. Mordecai declared himself to be a Jew, and conducted himself as a Jew might be expected to do. Note -

I. MORDECAI'S BOLD PROFESSION. "For he had told them that he was a Jew." This was a brave thing to do; for the Jews were a conquered race. But it was the right thing to do; for to deny his people would have been the height of cowardice. What does profession involve at the present day? Is it simply a tacit avowal that we are Christians? Surely most people will go that length. It must, therefore, imply something more than that, if it is to serve as a distinction amongst us. It means, in fact, an open confession of our attachment to Christ, by identifying ourselves, in some way or other, with his Church. To the true Christian profession is a necessity.

1. -It is a duty which he owes to himself. Secret discipleship may be possible under very exceptional circumstances; but it must be most disadvantageous for the development of spiritual power. A plant may grow in the dark, but it cannot attain its full proportions, or put on its robe of beauty, without the light of day. The surest way to overcome temptation is to declare your principles. By the very act you will add to your own strength and weaken the power of the tempter. It was the attempt to disguise himself that led Peter to his fall.

2. It is a duty which he owes to the world. He has found peace himself, and will he hide its source from the troubled hearts among whom he lives? The Divine light has been kindled within him, and will he place himself under a bushel? The misery, the darkness, the sinfulness of the world constitute the world's claim upon his services, nor can he render the highest services except as a professed servant of Christ.

3. It is a duty which he owes to God. God requires it. No shame, or suffering, or loss should, therefore, make us hesitate in reference to this matter. Our Lord declared that whosoever was ashamed of him in his humiliation he would be ashamed to own when he came in his glory.

II. MORDECAI'S CONSISTENT CONDUCT. The king's servants endeavoured to persuade him to change his attitude, but he would not. "He hearkened not unto them." He was a witness-bearer, a martyr, and possessed a martyr's courage. Having professed himself to be a Jew, he would make good his profession by adhering to the right. Profession alone is worse than worthless. It injures the professor himself, and the cause with which he claims connection. "Faith without works is dead."

1. To act is admittedly more difficult than to profess. Had Mordecai merely professed himself a Jew, while he behaved like a Gentile, he would probably have experienced no difficulty. Haman would have been satisfied with his homage, and his comrades would have commended his prudence. To say, "Lord, Lord," is one thing; but to do "the will of the Father" is another. There is no grandeur in magnificent words, except when they are backed up by noble deeds. Heroism consists not so much in declaring war as in fighting the enemy.

2. Men learn more easily by example than by precept. Hence the immense importance of consistent conduct, when we consider its influence upon others. If Christianity had never succeeded to produce Christians - if it had set up a high ideal which no one ever attempted to approach - it would have remained to this day a dead form; and no amount of learning, or reasoningi or eloquence could have persuaded the world to accept it. Men may argue against creeds, but the holy lives which those creeds help to fashion are unassailable. - R.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew.

WEB: Now it came to pass, when they spoke daily to him, and he didn't listen to them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's reason would stand; for he had told them that he was a Jew.

A Loyal Disobedience
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