Sunday, May 24, 2020

Blastus and Harbonah--Who??

My dad, who taught adult Sunday school all of my childhood and most of my adult years, takes notice of the least likely characters. One of our favorites is Blastus. Not only is his name memorable and distinct, he was King Herod's personal attendant and a friend of Tyre and Sidon (Acts 12:20). The one mention of his name is just prior to Herod being eaten by worms. It might not take you real far, but thinking about what he saw, heard, and smelled can certainly set off a young imagination and a serious discussion about pride.

Today as I read Esther chapter 7 Harbonah rose to the surface. In each mention and interaction, his chief concern is the safety and well being of the King. In chapter 1, he summoned Queen Vashti. In chapter 7, he is present at the second banquet of Queen Esther and suggests using Haman's newly constructed gallows as they cover Haman's face and take him away. His mission and focus is the king. 

Application? Whose kingdom am I most interested in protecting and promoting? My own? Or the Lord's? How committed am I to promoting Christ instead of myself? To protecting his reputation? To giving up personal comforts and desires in His service? If I had to be honest, it's a constant, moment by moment struggle to serve my King well. Regardless of how it looks to others, the chief concern is my heart--which fluctuates and morphs at a frightening rate.

Even my service is dependent on God's work in and through me. I cannot love Him in my own strength, with my own willpower or efforts. It is an absolutely humbling, God-dependent task, which means He is glorified, not only by the outcome, but by the heart and faith behind it. I cannot, dare not, take credit for serving my King, but as He will and works in my life, He is glorified--and will continue to be eternally glorified--in it all.

How do we get here?

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

By starting here:

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;  in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me. 

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 1:27-2:13)

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