Restraint

Description

Some conversations need to be handled carefully. The Book of Esther offers sound advice on communicating effectively in such situations.

A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, and a wise man will appease it (Proverbs 16:14).

On the television series I Love Lucy, one plot was repeated from season to season in which Lucy tried to join her husband’s entertainment act. Here’s an example from Season Four:

Lucy: About the television show, I have a question for you.

Ricky: Well I’m pretty sure what it is, and I have an answer for you.

Lucy: I’m pretty sure what your answer is, but let me ask it anyway.

Ricky: All right.

Lucy: Can I be on the show?

Ricky: No.

Lucy: Ten seconds. That’s the fastest we’ve ever done it.

Lucy’s lack of restraint is funny to us because we see this quality in ourselves. She blurts out whatever is on her mind the way we sometimes do.

Considering this helps us realize how remarkable Esther’s restraint was. An audience with the king was so valuable that Esther risked her life to secure it. Once she had the king’s attention, there would be a great temptation to talk quickly and fit in as much detail as possible. Esther resisted this temptation and simply invited the king to a feast. Her speech was subtle and persuasive to someone who rarely turned down a chance to eat and drink.

When communicating, Esther took these factors into account:

  • Personality King Ahasuerus was volatile and did not handle surprises well. Esther diffused his potential anger by intriguing him with her feast and by appealing to his interests.
  • Setting Esther prepared a feast only for the king and Haman, who was put off guard by the exclusive invitation. Getting the king alone with Haman led to a quick punishment once Esther revealed her true need.
  • Timing At the feast, the busy king would be able to focus on Esther’s request without distractions. Beforehand, anticipation could be building.

Here is Esther in a crisis. This is an enormous emergency situation. But she doesn’t blurt out what’s on her mind. God has helped her to know that it’s not the right time, it’s not the right place, it’s not the right setting. So she’s patient. 

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