After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.
As a Agagite, there was plenty of bad blood between Haman and the Jewish people already. Agagites were descendents of Agag, king of the Amalekites. Just prior to the Israelites entering the Promised Land, they suffered a horrible attack by the Amalekites (Deuteronomy 25:17-19). Saul, Israel’s first king, was commissioned to destroy the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15), yet Saul failed to complete the mission. With this history, Haman was naturally inclined to wipe out God’s people, and Mordecai was naturally inclined to resist Haman.
For Mordecai to bow to Haman would signify surrendering to a mortal enemy of the Jewish people. Mordecai wasn’t going to go there. His allegiance was to God and His people. Mordecai held this conviction, even at a high personal cost.
Conviction seems like an old fashioned word, yet attention to our convictions should be more en vague than ever. We live in a world where anything goes as long as you don’t get caught. But, if you do get caught, you just deny that you did anything wrong. Eventually, the story will cycle out of the news and out of people’s memory, and you can do whatever you want until you get caught again. But, what no one cares to tell you is that all of this comes at a high personal price. You are only as sick as your secrets.
A businessman was traveling with a partner in another country visiting a client. After dinner the clients expected to be “entertained.” The entertainment consisted of going to a strip club. The man was a Christian. He knew how sexual sin would affect himself, his relationship with God, his relationship with his wife, his relationship with his children, his friends, his church, his testimony, and the list could go on. There was no way he was going to a strip club. The problem was that there was only one car. What should he do?
He excused himself, hailed a cab at his own expense, and went back to the hotel. But, it was part of his job, wasn’t it? What if he lost his job? He was in another country. Who would ever find out? Those thoughts are very well part of the deception, but violating one’s conscience and convictions goes far deeper. This is why convictions must be determined before the situation arrives, not in the heat of the moment.
What are your convictions? What stands are you determined to take? Have you decided these things in your heart? Convictions are not just avoiding the sins listed in the Bible. Convictions often go beyond the actual sin to activities that border the sin -- things that will draw you in.
Some people can never step into a bar, because they know where that will lead them. Others should avoid a buffet. Others should consider how much of their life is spent exercising. Overdoing anything is unhealthy. The Bible teaches us to approach everything in moderation (1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Corinthians 9:25), and to avoid the things that will uniquely drag us down (Hebrews 12:1). (There is no moderation for sexual sin, by the way).
Where we get into trouble with convictions is when we begin to expect others to abide by our convictions. This can very quickly turn into legalism. Even in this passage, Mordecai doesn’t incite other Jews to rebel against Haman. He just quietly abides by his own convictions.
What have you chosen not to allow in your life? What is your plan if you are ever introduced into that situation? How do you get out of it? How do you firmly state your position without imposing your convictions on others? Are you prepared to say, “Fellas, you might think that I’m really old-fashioned, but…” When you are confronted with the “strip clubs” of life, on which side of the door will you end up?
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