We all like the feeling of being chosen. It’s exhilarating to hear our name announced as the winner of a prize, recipient of a great honor, or the chosen for a new job. Even as a child we were excited when we were selected for a sports team, or invited to attend a friend’s birthday party. Suddenly, we went from the category of insignificant, to the category of special!
I wonder if Esther of the Bible felt the same way when she was selected above all the rest to be queen. Did she stand tall with pride as she was announced before the entire kingdom? Or did she shiver at the thought of filling such a huge role? Perhaps she did what many of us do – forget for a time what made her acceptable in the first place.
Esther 2:3 lists the qualifications to be met in order to be considered a candidate: “‘And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women’s quarters, under the custody of Hegai the kings’ eunuch, custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given them . . . .”
Beauty and youth were naturally expected as any king would desire those attributes. However, these qualities did not end the list. One more characteristic was required – the most important one of them all – and that was to be a virgin. Not only were they expected to be pleasing to look at, but they were required to hold the gift of purity.
Esther was “fair and beautiful” (Esther 2:7), but what if she had not been a virgin? No amount of beauty would have qualified her then. She would have been bypassed, unfit to be chosen. We would have never seen her name in the Bible, never rejoiced in her heroic accomplishments. The honor would have been given to someone else.
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.” (2 Timothy 2:20)
To be a virgin before marriage is honorable. Though some may have made mistakes in that area, there is grace to forgive (I John 1:9). The Blood of Jesus cleanses us, washing away all signs that our vessel had been darkened with sin. It’s a beautiful transformation that no amount of makeup, jewelry, fashionable clothing, or mineral baths can accomplish. It’s a cleansing that only the power of God can do!
As important as this virginity may be to God, He is not simply looking for it in the physical; He is also looking for virginity of the heart. Proverbs 22:11 says, “He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend.” Purity begins in the heart. It starts with a heart that is fully devoted and in love with its King. It holds a pure willingness to do whatever it takes to honor Him, regardless of the cost. It’ll give up any impure thing in order to see the King’s will accomplished. This is the heart the King is seeking.
God desires honorable people who will choose to live a life set apart for His use only(Romans 12:2). He wants to do great things through us for His glory, but if we are bogged down by the impurities of the world, our use is limited. If our hearts are filled with pride and a desire to do things our own way, we will never hear His voice. If our vessels are cracked, tarnished, and soiled with sinful desires, we cannot contain His glory. We become as “wood and clay,” too cheap to carry the glory of God.
Like Esther, we should desire to be found fit for our assignment, without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27). We should be so focused on making ourselves beautiful for His use, that when the day comes to enter His courts, we are ready and waiting for His call. Without hesitation, we can boldly enter His throne room, our pure heart shining above any physical beauty we may hold!