Esther 4:14
For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place…

Let us learn from the appeal of Mordecai to Esther that opportunity is the test of character. "Who knoweth," he said, "whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" It was the tidal time of her life, the great opportunity of her existence, and the question was whether she would rise to the occasion and make it subservient to her greatness or whether it would sweep her away with it as weak, irresolute, and unequal to the emergency. Happily she stood the test, and by her courageous self-devotion proved that she was worthy of the affection with which her foster-father regarded her. Character is revealed only by being tested, and that test often comes in the shape of sudden elevation. The common idea, I know, is that character is tested only by affliction; but I am not sure if prosperity be not a more searching acid than adversity. Now, this is a truth which ought never to be lost sight of by any one among us. What we shall do in a crisis depends upon what we have been doing all along in the ordinary routine of our lives, when no such emergency was' on us. We cannot cut ourselves off from the past. There is a continuity in our lives, such that the habits which we have formed in the days that are gone do largely condition for us our resources in the present. Every day we live we are either adding to that constant element in us which constitutes our truest selves, and so increasing that reserve force on which in times of emergency we can draw with advantage, or we are expending with imprudent prodigality our spiritual capital, and living morally beyond our means, so that when a crisis comes we cannot stand it, and must inevitably go down. The careful man who husbands his earnings and stores them in some safe bank is able, when a time of adversity comes upon him, to tide over the difficulty by breaking in upon the surplus which he has accumulated. We all see and admit that in the case of deposits that are made outside of ourselves, and which are not us so much as they are ours. But we too frequently fail to take note of it in respect to the character deposits or drafts which we are constantly making on or from ourselves — meaning, thereby, our souls. If, as each morning dawns, we meet every duty as it calls us, or face every temptation as it attacks us, as a duty to be performed, or a temptation to be resisted out of regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall thereby add to our store of strength for the confronting of what may yet be before us; but if we go through our lives seeking only our own ease or the gratification of our appetites, or the indulgence of some evil ambition, we are, in all that, only weakening ourselves, and making ourselves so much the less to be relied upon when we come into our kingdom, and have to face a time like that which Esther was here required to meet. Travellers tell us of a tree in tropical countries, the inner parts of which are sometimes eaten out by ants, while the bark and leaves remain apparently as fresh as ever, and it is not till the tornado comes and sweeps it down that its weakness is discovered. But the storm did not make the tree weak: it only revealed how weak it really was; and its feebleness was the result of the gnawings of innumerable insects through a long course of years. In like manner, if we let our characters be honeycombed by neglect of common duty, or by daily indulgence in secret sin, or by habitual yielding to some temptation, we cannot expect anything else than failure when the testing hour shall come. What an importance thus attaches to what I may call the commonplace of life I We are apt, when we read such a history as that before us, to exclaim, "How tremendously important these grand outstanding opportunities of doing some great service are!" And no doubt they are all that we can say they are, But then we forget that the bearing in these of the individuals to whom they have been given will depend on the characters which they have been forming and strengthening in the ordinary routine life of every day before they came into their kingdom. It is out of the commonplace, well and faithfully done, that the heroic is born; and the splendid devotion of Esther to the welfare of her people would never have been heard of had she not meekly learned and diligently practised the lessons of her girlhood which Mordecai taught her in his pious home. The prize-taker at the end of the year is the daily plodder all through it. The gaining of his diploma by a student depends, no doubt, on the manner in which he passes his final examination. That is for him the equivalent of this occasion in the life of Esther; but then the proficiency which at that time he manifests does itself depend on the steady, constant perseverance which he has maintained in his class work from hour to hour throughout his course.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

WEB: For if you remain silent now, then relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Who knows if you haven't come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

Discerning Opportunities
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