Jealous Pride

Journal Entry // December 2, 2022

But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him. (ESV)

Esther 1:12

Reading the beginning of the story of Esther, we see the actions of king Ahasuerus set the stage for the focus of what is to come in the story and how this one incident leads to a sweeping change throughout the king’s land that brings pain, suffering, and death. It all begins with a small statement by the author that the king’s heart was merry with wine. I don’t know if it means he was drunk or just that he had lost some of his inhibitions through drinking. Whatever mental and physical state he was in, he decided to make his wife, the queen, an object for the viewing pleasure of his guests. There is this sense that the king wanted these men to be jealous of his beautiful queen as they lusted after her in front of him. So when the queen refuses, the king is moved from a place of superiority to these princes to one of embarrassment. And in his embarrassment, he becomes enraged with a burning anger. An anger fueled by the loss of his inhibitions and the rationality of a sober mind.

There are several takeaways that could be focused on in this passage, but what interests me this morning is the prideful heart that wants to make a show of material wealth and advantages I may have over others. It is normal in our society to so order our lives that we take full advantage of displaying those things that are most important to us. I look around my house and I can readily see how I have set up rooms to simply display those objects that I find important and valuable. There isn’t anything inherently wrong in this. It is a good thing to view and remind myself of the good blessings that the Lord has brought into my life. It is good to remember the love and care of my Father as I give thanks. This is true at times, but more often I tend to set up my house (or car, or office, or clothing, or activities) not to bring to mind the blessings of God but to display them for others to see and instill a sense of pride or superiority.

Now, what is my motivation in this? Is it to demonstrate the love and care of my Father that will encourage others to give thanks and praise to Him alone for these blessings? Or is it because I want to hear the praise of others for all these blessings? I fear that I am a lot like king Ahasuerus. I want to parade the beautiful things I have in this life before the eyes of others to provoke a reaction in them. A reaction of jealousy and envy. I want others to see those things that are beautiful and important to me in order to make my heart merry and to swell my heart with pride. How do I know this? Because these are the same reactions I have at times when I am visiting others and see their objects that are beautiful and important to them. I see their things, their blessings, and I feel the surge of jealous pride welling up inside me that threatens to become a burning anger that could engulf my heart and mind.

I may have a thousand beautiful and precious blessings from the Lord; a thousand amazing undeserved beautiful reminders of God’s steadfast love for me. Yet, my heart can oftentimes forget that I am just a steward of these good and precious blessings. My heart conceives that it was and is by the strength of my hand that these thousand blessings came about. I forget that each and every blessing is meant to bring thanksgiving to my heart. They are meant to humble me. They are meant to make me more like Jesus. I twist this and begin to seek the gifts and not the Giver. I lift up the blessing so that praise will come to me, not God. I see God’s different blessings in others and become jealous because I don’t have those. I want more and more and more. I want something different than what God has given me at times.

So like king Ahasuerus, I rage when I am denied something I want. I burn with anger at times against God. I let my heart become merry with the things of this world and I take my eyes off Jesus. Each and every blessing I have is a beautiful gift from God. A precious gift that will draw me closer to Jesus. I need a heart of humility and thanksgiving. A heart that gives thanks for each and every breath I take. Each moment is a gift from the Lord. I would do well to remember this at all times. To see these precious and good blessings for what they are, instruments to point me to Christ. He is the centrality of my life. Not food or drink or material things. It is all from Jesus… It is all through Jesus… It is all to Jesus.

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