“Esther was the daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai who had adopted her as his own daughter. . . . Esther gained favor in the eyes of everyone who saw her. . . . The king loved Esther more than all the other women. She won more favor and approval from him . . . He placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti” (Esther 2:15-17).
Do you know any beauty queens? Let me introduce you to Esther. Esther’s Jewish name was Hadassah which means “Myrtle,” a beautiful fragrant tree. Her Persian name Esther means “star,” as in Venus, a symbol of beauty and good fortune. Esther embodied her name. Esther had natural beauty and charm that required no unique adornments to make her more attractive. She was one of the four most beautiful women in history along with Sarah, Rahab, and Abigail, according to Jewish tradition.
What set Esther apart was not only her beauty without; it was her beauty within. She modeled grace before everyone. She displayed an unusual restraint, in telling no one she was Jewish. She had a teachable spirit, following instruction. She never got a big head, thinking she knew it all. Before seeing the king, she refused pampering, excess bathing, and oil treatment. She did not succumb to the temptations around her. Maybe she had no driving ambition to be the queen. Maybe her life did not revolve around her physical appearance or making a king happy. She was content “in her own skin.” She was authentic. She was real—just the way God created her.
As a result, she found favor with all whom she came into contact from the king’s servant to the women who were competing against her for being the Queen to the king himself. She had a pleasant, delightful, and winsome demeanor. People were drawn to her. She was engaging. Perhaps those are the real reasons she became Queen.
What can we learn from Esther’s life?
Character and inner attractiveness can be cultivated. We may not get to choose our height, complexion, body size, or facial features, but we can decide to live with integrity, humility, grace, and respect for others that emanates from the inside. As we live in close contact with God, his grace, mercy, and hope will rub off on us and, therefore, be expressed to others. Let’s emphasize a joyful spirit and grace over physical appearance and outward beautifications. Inward beauty trumps outward beauty in the long run.
Circumstances cannot be controlled. While we can plan and prepare for where we go to school, who we chose to befriend, what will be our vocation; many situations are beyond our control. We can’t wait for the circumstances to be perfect. In those moments, the strength of character and personal resolve will come to the forefront. Positive attitude and hopeful perseverance will enable us to thrive even in less than ideal circumstances.
Remember Esther. She was a slave in a foreign land. At the height of competition, surrounded by sensual, greedy, superficial girls, Esther stood alone. And, amazingly, God gave her favor in others’ eyes. She’s a great model for us all.