Oh, we humans are so easily offended. And I’m not just talking about democrats or republicans, conservatives or liberals. It’s all of us. Whether the issue is a huge political decision or just a Facebook post, it seems we’ve gotten more and more touchy over time.
It’s not exactly fun, is it? Taking offense at everything is tiring. It pushes us to angry actions and embarrassment. It’s just all-round not that great.
But where does it come from? Why have we become so easily offended?
Surprisingly, I learned quite a lot about this by reading the book of Esther. If you haven’t read the book or have only seen the Veggie Tales version of it (that was me a month ago), here’s a little recap: A man named Haman has a plot to kill all the Jews in the provinces of King Xerxes. Queen Esther, with extreme bravery, speaks out and saves the Jews’ lives. It’s a great story!
But what the heck was Haman’s problem? Today we’re talking about his vice, the thing that caused him to plan such an evil scheme: pride.
I’d like to point out first that Haman could have hated the Jews for a long time. They were living alongside the other citizens in the kingdom, but had separate customs and laws. We don’t get details about his feelings on this.
We do see, however, the moment Haman is first infuriated. The king decides to elevate his rank and honor him. Everyone is commanded to bow down and pay him honor, and everyone does: except a Jew named Mordecai.
Haman is enraged! He goes to the king with deceptive words and the dramatic intent to see that every Jew in the kingdom will be killed. He even pays the king a huge amount of money to see this to completion. The date is set.
Fast forward: the day of annihilation is still pending. Haman is happily going along his way when he sees Mordecai sitting near the king’s gate. His eyes narrow, his fists clench. That peasant. He doesn’t even rise or show fear in Haman’s presence! Haman is once again enraged.
He surprisingly restrains his anger and goes home. Then he gathers his family and friends and starts bragging about how wealthy, honored, and elevated he is. He tends to his wounded ego. Then he concludes with “but all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”
His friends give him the ever so kind idea of setting up a pole on which to impale Mordecai the next day. He’s apparently delighted and has it set up immediately.
As Haman rushes to the palace for permission to impale Mordecai, the king is reading the records of his reign. He rediscovers something he’d forgotten: Mordecai had uncovered a conspiracy against the king and saved his life!
Haman is entering the court of the palace, bloodthirsty and increasingly excited. The king asks to have someone from the court brought in to discuss what should be done for Mordecai.
Bingo, Haman is the only one there. He’s brought in to the king, who asks him this question: “what should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”
Haman, true to his prideful nature, assumes he’s the only one the king could possibly be referring to. He grins and describes that this honored man should be paraded around town on a horse, wearing the king’s robe, with a man leading the horse and yelling “this is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”
Oh, Haman. Bad idea. He’s ordered to go find Mordecai and do this for him. He finds himself leading the horse, proclaiming Mordecai’s honor all over town. Can we stop and just laugh at this? It has to be one of the most hilarious things I’ve seen in the Bible. Haman’s pride has gotten him into some deep embarrassment and frustration.
Haman scuttles back home after this, tail between his legs, and once again whines to his family and friends. That night he attends a banquet with Esther and the king, where she exposes him for deceptively plotting to kill the Jews.
The king goes into a rage and orders for Haman to be executed immediately. Apparently he didn’t love Haman as much as Haman had assumed. An official tells the king about the pole outside Haman’s house, and he's executed on it. Here’s more irony and a kind of humor: his life ends on the very pole he had set up for Mordecai’s death.
Do you see what pride did to Haman? Pride is what caused so much fury in his heart, formulated the plan to kill the Jews, embarrassed him deeply, and ultimately led to his execution. If he hadn’t been so offended by Mordecai, life would have gone on smoothly for everyone involved.
Pride hurts us personally. It makes us easily offended. It deceives us into acting stupidly and embarrassing ourselves. It gives us fragile egos that must be protected. It encourages evil intents and plans, endangering others. It makes us slaves of its erratic demands and tricks us into justifying them.
Watch for traces of pride in how you feel throughout the day. Are you easily offended or annoyed? That’s a sure sign of pride. The two feed off each other.
Thinking in this way for the past few weeks has opened my eyes to some pride I didn’t even know was there. It's a good way to gauge where you're at. As always, don’t expect perfection from yourself, but be willing to critique yourself and ask God for help to change for the better.
He alone can transform a prideful soul into the heart of a humble servant.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Look forward to new posts every Monday morning!