ESTHEREsther 2:15-17
Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abigail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.
16 So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
17 And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.

Life is competition
I see from the story above and in life generally that Life is competition. I notice that, it was not Esther alone who wanted to take the place of Queen Vashti. There were many other virgins involved. There are a thousand and one people who want what we want. They want the job we want. They want the house we want. They want the car we love to drive. There is competition in every area of life. Young or old, you are in competition. There is competition in the family, in the work place, among friends. Sometimes you compete with people, things and situations you don’t even know.

You may say, I’m not in competition with anyone. But it is not about you. It is the way life is. The story of Esau and Jacob is quite familiar. Esau didn’t want to compete, but his brother began to grab his heels right from their mothers womb (Gen 25:22,26) Abraham didn’t want to compete, but his nephew’s herdsmen fought his own herdsmen for the available pasture until Abraham moved away (Gen 13:7-9) Joseph didn’t want to compete, but his brothers were against his dreams (Gen 37:20) David didn’t want to compete but the moment he began to show signs of greatness, he became an enemy to King Saul. (1Sam 18:6-12) Even as a Pastor, I have noticed that there are many factors competing for the souls we are after. Other faiths, Demons, lifestyles etc. Paul said “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9 KJV)

Somebody said, Life is a challenge and not a competition. I wish it were that simple. We all know there is only so much room at the top in any area of human endeavors. Anyone who doesn’t sneak into the little space is left to fight for scrums. Tell me, who desires the scrums in life? No matter how humble we are, no one wants to be the tail. Who wants to be beneath? Even God wants his people to be above (Deuteronomy 28:13) Now to be above, you have to move up from the folks below.

Secondly, I have seen that credentials and abilities are not always enough. It is good to be diligent in whatever we do. The word of God recommends it (Pr 22:29) However, I have seen that abilities and credentials are not always enough. In the story above, the other ladies in the competition with Esther were virgins also. What was required for the competition was beauty and chastity, which they had, but they didn’t make it. There are many who have qualifications yet they are not making it in life. Ecclesiastes 9:11 …says the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all..

And thirdly, I have also seen that it is God who has the final say. If all we can get depends on our merits, hard work, brilliance or strength we may not go far. For merits, there are many people that are more deserving. For hard work, there are workaholics we may find difficult to beat, no matter how diligent we are. For brilliance, there are many “First Class” brains we may not match. For strength, there are people with bigger muscles. But thank God, He has the final say and this is where Grace comes in. Romans 9:16 says So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. Psalms 75:6-7 also says …promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

Grace is when you have the hand of God helping you to perform beyond your natural self. Grace puts you at an advantage. Grace makes you relevant. Grace hides your shortcomings and advertises your strength. Grace gives to you with ease what others are struggling for. Grace makes you get what you don’t deserve. Somebody said Grace is not fair! Yes indeed, grace is certainly not fair. The story of Esther is a story of grace. Let’s see how Esther walked down the isle of grace to become the Queen instead of Vashti.

1. Grace created a vacancy for Esther

When the time of favour comes for a man, something happens to create an opportunity for him. It was Queen Vashti’s misbehavour that made room for Esther (Esther 1:10-19) Pharoah had dreams no one in Egypt could interpret and so the position of a Prime Minister that was not existing before then was created for Joseph in the palace of King Pharaoh (See Gen 41) King Saul became mad when it was time for David to get acquainted with the palace (1 Samuel 16:14-19) When it was time for Mephiboshet to go out from Lordibar to Jerusalem, something happened in the heart of King David (2 Samuel 9:1-5)
Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come Ps 102:13. When the time of favour comes, God arises and does something. He could create vacancy or touch the heart of a somebody. He could even cause a confusion in a place, just because the time of favour has come. I pray, whatever, God needs to do to lift you up, He will do now in Jesus Name.

2. Grace made what she had to be good enough

When it was Esther’s turn to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch in charge of the hare gave, yet she won the admiration of everyone who saw her. (Esther 2:15) Little is much when the grace of God is upon your life. A woman may only have three dresses and be more presentable than one who has five wardrobes full of designer dresses. This is called grace. David only had 5 stones and a sling and it was enough to defeat Goliath because he had grace. Those stones and sling did the work that swords, spears and javelins could not do in the land of trained soldiers who were not as endowed. (1 Samuel 17:49-50)

3. Grace advertised Esther

“And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her” All the girls were made up, decorated and paraded as required. But everyone who had anything to do with the competition took special interest in Esther. When you hear, I don’t know why, but there is something about you that makes me want to help you. Then you know, it is grace that is at work. Everywhere Joseph went, people took interest in him. Portiphar noticed the “something” about Joseph and made him the ruler of his household. It was not long after he got to the prison that the keeper of the prison noticed it too and he was put in charge (Gen 39:21) Grace puts the “something” in you and people take special interest in you.

4. Grace stands her above her competitors. The other virgins were eminently more qualified because they were indigenes and freeborns while Esther was not only a foreigner but a slave girl. However, her limitations were set aside, her beauty magnified and she outshone all the others in competition with her. She wasn’t the most qualified but she became the Queen. You may not be the most qualified but grace will get you the position or the promotion. You may not be the most beautiful but grace will get you the husband. You may not be the most brilliant but grace puts you ahead of your class, some of whom may be far more brilliant. In fact, as a slave girl, Esther was not qualified but grace qualified her. This is why they say grace is not fair.

5. Grace finished the job and she became Queen.
And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained GRACE and FAVOUR in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. Esther 2:17
At the end of all things Esther was victorious. The grace that created a place for her, brought her before the king and elevated her to the dignity of Chief Wife, or Queen. Grace started and finished the process. May He that begun a good work in you perform it. (Phil1:6)

Now I have understanding that Grace is not what we can buy …But if it be of works, then is it no more grace…(Romans 11:6 KJV) However, Heb 1:9 says Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Which means, we can do something to be anointed above our fellows. Another word for this kind of anointing is Grace! Esther was anointed above the other virgins. We noticed that she was a Jew and the Jews are people specially loved by God. Joseph was anointed above his brothers. We noticed he was God fearing right from his youth and when he was enticed to sin, the fear of God made him to run. David was anointed above his brothers. We noticed he was a worshipper who loved to stay long in the presence of God. Solomon had this anointing too. He did not have to fight any battle throughout his reign as a king of Israel. We noticed he was humble. He did not ask for the neck of his enemies, neither did he ask for riches and long life. He acknowledged his weakness as a young man and asked for wisdom and James 4:6 says God gives grace to the humble.

Dearly beloved, while grace is given freely by God, if we serve God, worship him in spirit and in truth, fear him and depart from sin and humble ourselves before him, He will anoint us above our fellows and we will grow and abound in grace. 2 Pt 3:18

May the grace of the Lord be with you. God bless.