Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.” Esther 3:8-9
As Haman had thoroughly deceived himself, he begins to deceive the king as well. Haman puts things in a way that will truly be objectionable to the king. “A certain people are dispersed…” They’re everywhere. They “keep themselves separate.” That should tell you something. “Their customs are different…” We don’t know if we can trust them. We should be afraid of them and round them up. “They do not obey the king’s laws.” There you go. “It’s not in the king’s best interest…” You are allowing a foreign people to undermine you right under your nose. “Destroy them.” Call the exterminator. They must be stopped. And, oh, by the way, I’ll pay you 10,000 talents of silver (or 30 tons of silver valued at about $20 million at today’s prices).
Haman was obsessed with eliminating the Jews. He probably spent late nights plotting. He thought of all of the possible negatives about them, and anything else he could exaggerate into a negative. Then, he worded things in such a way so the king would strongly react, and Haman would get his way. Haman’s character was certainly flawed. And, the same can go for some of us.
Think about this: we interpret another person’s actions largely by whether we like them or not. Let’s say a co-worker gets a big raise. If we like them, then we think, “You know, he works very hard, he deserves that.” If we don’t like them, we think, “I work harder than he does. Why did he get a raise? He’s just in tight with the boss. He gets whatever he wants.” Same person. Same raise. Different point of view.
But, how far are we going to take things? To be honest, certain personalities rub us the wrong way. And, we return the favor to other people. There’s not a lot of rationality to this. Have you ever instantly liked or disliked someone because they remind you of someone from your past? You don’t know anything about them, yet you’ve already rushed to judgment.
If someone offends us or sins against us, then sure, there is plenty of reason to dislike them. But, Scripture directs us to go to them if they sinned again us (Matthew 18:15) or if we sinned against them (Matthew 5:23-24). The longer we leave offenses in an open loop, the easier it is for the enemy to get a foothold (Ephesians 4:26-27).
Where do you find yourself being irrational these days? What people irritate you? Who in your life just can’t seem to do anything right? How often do you pray for them? A simple remedy is to pray for God to bless that person. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). Try this and see how your heart changes.
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