June 30: By Your Example
Esther 8:1–10:3; 3 John 5–15; Psalm 118:17–29
By nature, we are creatures of imitation. Children mimic the traits of their parents, and even in later life we are influenced by the habits of our friends. People naturally imitate, even if they don’t realize it or intend to. This is one reason why “lead by example” is such a powerful principle. It’s also why leaders can change the direction of a whole community—for better or worse (Jas 3:1).
Diotrephes, an ambitious member of the early church who misused his power, was unwilling to heed the advice of John and others who reprimanded him. In his letter to Gaius, a church leader known for his faithfulness and love, John gives this advice regarding Diotrephes: “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God” (3 John 11).
Throughout his letters, John emphasizes that people’s actions reflect their heart. Diotrephes’ actions told a dismal story. Whether he was a church leader or someone who battled for leadership, he was characterized by his selfish ambition: He wanted to be “first,” and he did “not acknowledge” those in leadership roles (3 John 9). He was also known for speaking evil words that undermined other leaders (3 John 10), and he spread contention by refusing to receive missionaries and intimidating those who wanted to (3 John 10). These actions didn’t reflect the work of the Spirit in his life.
We’re not sure what happened to Diotrephes. Perhaps he left the Christian community. Perhaps he repented when John “call[ed] attention to the deeds he [was] doing” (3 John 10). His story, though, shows us that we shouldn’t imitate blindly. Instead, we should “test the spirits to determine if they are from God” and respond wisely (1 John 4:1).
Where in your life do you need to be more careful whom you imitate? Where do you need to set a positive example?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- The same day did King Ahasuerus give the house of Hanan the adversary of the Jews, unto the Queen Esther. And Mordecai came before the King: for Esther told what he was unto her. And the King took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai: and Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. And Esther spake yet more before the King, and fell down at his feet weeping, and besought him that he would put away the wickedness of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had imagined against the Jews. And the King held out the golden scepter toward Esther. Then arose Esther, and stood before the King, And said, If it please the King, and if I have found favor in his sight, and the thing be acceptable before the King, and I please him, let it be written, that the letters of the device of Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite may be called again, which he wrote to destroy the Jews, that are in all the King’s provinces. For how can I suffer and see the evil, that shall come unto my people? Or how can I suffer and see the destruction of my kindred? And the king Ahasuerus said unto the Queen Esther, and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, whom they have hanged upon the tree, because he laid hand upon the Jews. Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you in the King’s name, and seal it with the King’s ring, (for the writings written in the King’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man revoke.) Then were the King’s Scribes called at the same time, even in the third month, that is the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof: and it was written, according to all as Mordecai commanded, unto the Jews and to the princes, and captains and rulers of the provinces, which were from India even unto Ethiopia, an hundred and seven and twenty provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their speech, and to the Jews, according to their writing, and according to their language. And he wrote in the King Ahasuerus’s name, and sealed it with the King’s ring, and he sent letters by posts on horseback and that rode on beasts of price, asdromedaries, and colts of mares. Wherein the King granted the Jews (in what cities soever they were) to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, and to root out, to slay and to destroy all the power of the people and of the province that vexed them, both children and women, and to spoil their goods: Upon one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, even in the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar. The copy of the writing was, how there should be a commandment given in all and every province, published among all the people, and that the Jews should be ready against that day, to avenge themselves on their enemies. So the posts rode upon beasts of price, and dromedaries, and went forth with speed, to execute the King’s commandment, and the decree was given at Shushan the palace. And Mordecai went out from the King in royal apparel of blue, and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple, and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad. And unto the Jews was come light and joy and gladness and honor. Also in all and every province, and in all and every city and place, where the King’s commandment and his decree came, there was joy and gladness to the Jews, a feast and good day, and many of the people of the land became Jews: for the fear of the Jews fell upon them. So in the twelfth month, whch is the month Adar, upon the thirteenth day of the same, when the King’s commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them (but it turned contrary: for the Jews had rule over them that hated them.) The Jews gathered themselves together into their cities throughout all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt, and no man could withstand them: for the fear of them fell upon all people. And all the rulers of the provinces, and the princes and the captains, and the officers of the King exalted the Jews: for the fear of Mordecai fell upo them. For Mordecai was great in the King’s house, and the report of him went through all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater. Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with strokes of the sword and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them. And at Shushan the palace slew the Jews and destroyed five hundred men, And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha, And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha, And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha, And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha, And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha, The ten sons of Haman, the son of Hammedatha, the adversary of the Jews slew they: but they laid not their hands on their spoil. On the same day came the number of those that were slain, unto the palace of Shushan before the King. And the King said unto the Queen Esther, The Jews have slain in Shushan the palace, and destroyed five hundred men, and the ten sons of Haman: what have they done in the rest of the King’s provinces? and what is thy petition, that it may be given thee? or what is thy request moreover, that it may be performed? Then said Esther, If it please the King, let it be granted also tormorrow to the Jews that are in Shushan, to do according unto this day’s decree, that they may hang upon the tree Haman’s ten sons. And the King charged to do so, and the decree was given at Shushan, and they hanged Haman’s ten sons. So the Jews that were in Shushan, assembled themselves upon the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men in Shushan, but on the spoil they laid not their hand. And the rest of the Jews that were in the King’s provinces assembled themselves, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of them that hated them, seventy and five thousand: but they laid not their hand on their spoil. This they did on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and rested the fourteenth day thereof, and kept it a day of feasting and joy. But the Jews that were in Shushan assembled themselves on the thirteenth day, and on the fourteenth thereof, and they rested on the fifteenth of the same, and kept it a day of feasting and joy. Therefore the Jews of the villages that dwelt in the unwalled towns, kep the fourteenth day of the month Adar with joy and feasting, even a joyful day, and everyone sent presents unto his neighbor. And Mordecai wrote these words, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were through all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both near and far, Enjoining them that they should kept the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, every year. According to the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a joyful day, to keep them the days of feasting and joy, and to send presents every man to his neighbor, and gifts to the poor. And the Jews promised to do so as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them, Because Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite all the Jews’ adversary had imagined against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur (that is a lot) to consume and destroy them. Because Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite all Jews adversary had imagined against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur (that is a lot) to consume and destroy them. And when she came before the king, he commanded by letters, Let this wicked device (which he imagined against the Jews) turn upon his own head, and let them hang him and his sons on the tree. Therefore they called these days Purim, by the name of Pur, and because of all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen besides this, and of that which had come unto them. The Jews also ordained, and promised for them and for their seed, and for all that joined unto them, that they would not fail to observe those two das every year, according to their writing, and according unto their season, And that these days should be remembered, and kept throughout every generation and every family, and every province, and every city: even these days of Purim should not fail among the Jews, and the memorial of them should not perish from their seed. And the Queen Esther the daughter of Abihail and Mordecai the Jew wrote with all authority (to confirm this letter of Purim the second time.) And he sent letters unto all the Jews to the hundred and seven and twenty provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth. To confirm these days of Purim according to their seasons, as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the Queen had appointed them, and as they had promised for themselves and for their seed with fasting and prayer. And the decree of Esther confirmed these words of Purim, and was written in the book. And King Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea. And all the acts of the power, and of his might, and the declaration of the dignity of Mordecai, wherewith the King magnified him, are they not written in the book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was the second unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted among the multitude of his brethren, who procured the wealth of his people, and spake peaceably to all his seed. Esther 8:1–10:3
- Beloved, thou doest faithfully, whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers, Which bore witness of thy love before the Churches, Whom if thou bringest on their journey as it seemeth according to God, thou shalt do well, Because that for his Name’s sake they went forth, and took nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be helpers to the truth. I wrote unto the Church, but Diotrephes which loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore if I come, I will call to your remembrance his deeds which he doeth, prattling against us with malicious words, and not therewith content, neither he himself receiveth the brethren, but forbideth them that would, and thrusteth them out of the Church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good: he that doeth well is of God: but he that doeth evil, hath not seen God. Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we ourselves bear record, and ye know that our record is true. I have many things to write: but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: For I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak mouth to mouth. Peace be with thee, The friends salute thee. Greet thy friends by name. 3 John 5–15
- I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord had chastened me sore, but he hath not delivered me to death. Open ye unto me the gates of righteousness, that I may go into them, and praise the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord: the righteous shall enter into it. I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and hast been my deliverance. The stone, which the builders refused, is the head of the corner. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes, This is the day, which the Lord hath made: let us rejoice and be glad in it. O Lord, I pray thee, save now: O Lord, I pray thee now give prosperity. Blessed be he, that cometh i teh Name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord. The Lord is mighty, and hath given us light: bind the sacrifice with cords unto the horns of the altar. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee, even my God: therefore I will exalt thee. Priase ye the Lord, because he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. Psalm 118:17–29