Last week’s lesson for children’s church was “Be a godly friend like Jonathan and David“. I pray that the children will apply what they learned this week and see how God uses them. This week’s lesson ties in with being a godly friend by focusing on Esther and her brave actions which saved the lives of all of her friends, the entire race of Hebrews. I would like to look at this historical account and see what we can learn about godly friendship and bravery.
It takes bravery to be a godly friend because most people do not understand the concept and when they see you acting like a godly friend they may mock and ridicule you. It takes courage to befriend people whom others have rejected. It takes courage to serve your friends instead of seeking to be served by them. It takes courage to do the right thing when you know in advance that your choices will cost you. So, the question is, how do we attain this kind of courage? Esther and her story give us the answer.
I. You need a godly friend who will mentor you
In order to be a godly friend, you first need someone to invest in you and be a godly friend to you. David had Jonathan and then Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son had David. Do you see how it works? Someone invests in you and then you invest in others. Jesus calls this process “discipleship” in the New Testament. That is what He did with the 12 and then commanded them to turn around and do the same thing.
We see this same process happening in the life of Esther. She had a mentor, a godly friend, who took her under his wing and taught her how to know, love, obey, and serve God and then he taught her how to love the people around her. In order to do the right thing and be a godly friend, we must first know what the right thing is. Our mentor will teach us these things from God’s Word. This is why a godly friend will challenge you to study the Bible together. A godly friend/mentor will want to spend time with you, getting to know you, teaching you, and showing you how to live out your faith on a daily basis while you are living your day to day life. In our Western culture, this is almost a lost art, although in the Eastern world, this is still a common idea. All of us need a godly friend who will mentor us so that we can be brave enough to do what is right and turn around and become a godly friend to others. Do you have a godly friend who is investing in you, mentoring you, teaching you how to know, love, obey, and serve God? If not, why not? God has called you to be discipled and to disciple others. The process of discipleship happens when a godly friend mentors you and then you turn around and become a godly friend who mentors others.
II. You need to learn from your godly friend as he mentors you
Sometimes you may need to trust your mentor even when you may not understand the entire situation. He has your best interest in mind and he sees the big picture that you may not yet see. This takes courage and trust. This is what happened to Esther. If you know her story, Esther was an orphan who was taken in by her uncle, Mordecai. He mentored her and taught her how to love God and love people. She was chosen by the pagan king to be his bride. One of the king’s right hand men plotted against Mordecai and the entire Jewish race. He wanted them all put to death so he cooked up a nasty scheme. Mordecai learned of it and confronted Esther, challenging her to use her position to influence the king and save her people, the Hebrews. She was torn because she had to enter the presence of the king without being invited, which was certain death. Then, she had to reveal that she was a Jew which would also have meant certain death. The king gave her 2 chances to sacrifice her people and save herself and both times she refused. She was ready to die to save her people. She had courage because she had learned it from God’s Word through her mentor Mordecai. He taught her to value people, love them, and serve them with her life. She had learned how to view people from the eyes of God. This is what gave her the bravery that she needed to do the right thing. Because she had a godly friend who mentored her, she in turn, was used by God to save an entire nation from death. Being a godly friend matters because you never know how many people’s lives you will save by investing in them and teaching them how to know, love, obey, and serve God. Do you see people the way that God does? Do you want to invest in them the way that God does? Are you ready to be brave and courageous and do it?
III. You need to be bold and become a godly friend to others by mentoring them
In our fast-food, microwave oven world, we want things done our way, for us and we want them done now. It is our nature to be selfish. God is the One who has to change that and He can and will do it if we will allow Him. Even as followers of Christ, we are still tempted, daily, to be selfish and self-centered. We want things done our way and we want them done now. God teaches us to be bold and courageous by setting our selfish desires aside and taking the life that He has given to us and investing it in serving others. Once someone has become a godly friend to us and mentored us, we are challenged to take what we have learned and invest it in others. Many times, we want to be like a sponge that soaks up every good thing that others do for us and never wring out what we soaked up. God causes people to invest in us so that we soak up His blessings and then He wants to “wring us out” into the lives of others. This takes courage because everyone around us wants us to be selfish like they are. They want us to soak up the blessings of God and just grow soggy in them and never pass them on to others. Saint Paul explains the process of soaking up the blessings of God and then pouring those blessings into others this way:
17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. 18 You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me. (Philippians 2)
Jesus Christ, Himself, had invested in Paul and then sent Him out to invest in others. Paul was obedient to the calling. He paints a word-picture of what it was like to invest in others. He was pouring his life into others the way that the priests poured out a drink offering to the Lord. The Philippians were living proof of that. They had been transformed by God because Paul had invested in them and mentored them. Jesus, Paul’s mentor, explains the same thing using a different picture:
37 And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22)
Jesus was asked to sum up what it means to love/follow/obey/worship God and His response was simple, when you love the Lord with all that you are and live for Him, then you will love the people around you and invest in them. This is the essence of Christianity, God invests in you and then you invest in the people around you, introducing them to God who has invested in you. He in turn, begins to invest in them as well and the cycle continues. Are you doing this? Why are you a Christian, so that you can be a spectator who soaks up the blessings of God or, are you soaking up the blessings of God so that you can bravely invest those blessings in the lives of the people around you?
Let us learn to be godly friends who are courageous like Esther and invest our lives in the lives of others, becoming godly friends to them, mentoring them in a personal relationship with our God.