RESTRAINT THAT MAKES A POINT
The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder. Esther 9:15
In every province, the Jews sought to kill all those who were armed to come against them. The king’s commission had given them the right to not only kill the women and children of their enemies, but to enrich themselves with the plunder of their conquests. However, throughout the land, the Jews were united in their ethics. Women and children were not touched and no spoils were taken. Worldly goods were left behind with the survivors. Consideration and compassion ruled their behavior.
The Jews were only concerned with the preservation of their lives. They had no designs for wealth. They emulated their father Abraham who, much earlier in history, had refused to plunder the spoils of Sodom.
Just because I have the power to do something doesn’t mean I should follow through with it. There is something self-righteous in me that loves to follow things to the letter of the law. It makes me feel good. The glint in my eye for order and justice can drive me beyond the point where one hears God’s call for grace. Would I be willing to lay down the sword for a better agenda? What if God reveals to me that an act of grace and kindness is more profitable?
- A child might transgress and deserve harsh discipline. Will I be open to grant an unexpected reprieve?
- An employee might merit dismissal. Will I surprise him/her with a second chance?
- A friend might have committed an offense against me. Am I a big enough person to overlook it and forgive it?
- A parent might have sown years of criticism against me. Are my resources in God substantial enough to gift them with affirmation instead of revenge? Restraint can make a strong point if it’s rooted in power, not fear. Only wisdom and a close connection with my Father will show me when to use it.