by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Esther 4:7-16
I. Increasingly I run into people who are obsessive-compulsive.
A. It is sometimes referred to as the doubter’s disease because the sufferer is constantly plagued with uncertainty.
1. A person might repeatedly wash his hands because he might not have done a thorough enough cleaning earlier
2. Another might constantly wonder if some point about his baptism was done incorrectly.
3. Still another is constantly asking for reassurance
a. This includes people who are constantly looking for signs from God regarding what they should do
B. But OCD can also be viewed as having an intolerance for risk [Fletcher Wortmann, “The Danger of Doubt: The Ruthless and Frequently Misunderstood Logic of OCD]
1. The sufferer is striving for greater perfection than God (or anyone else) expects because he wants absolute certainty that he will be saved
2. Thus, the person adds stringent rules because he believe rules might make him more acceptable to God.
3. But man-made rules don’t produce righteousness - Colossians 2:20-23
C. In other words, the OCD sufferer strives for perfection because in his mind anything less carries too much risk
1. What he doesn’t realize is that he sets himself up for failure because no one is perfect
2. It leads to ruin as Solomon warned - Ecclesiastes 7:16
II. Life requires that we take reasonable risks
A. Abram took a risk to follow God, not knowing where he was going - Hebrews 11:8
B. Jacob took a risk sending his youngest son to Egypt - Genesis 43:8-14
1. He delayed, but it was that or the family starving to death
C. Esther took a risk appearing before the king in order to save her countrymen - Esther 4:7-16
D. Paul, heading to Jerusalem, was told things would not go well - Acts 20:22-24
1. He did not know if he would die there or not - Acts 21:13-14
2. Jesus had told his disciples that they would have lose their life to gain it - Luke 9:24
3. Staying in this world is always a risk. Paul found it hard to choose - Philippians 1:22-24
E. Other Christians took risks
1. Priscilla and Aquila - Romans 16:3-4
2. Epaphroditus - Philippians 2:29-30
III. But let’s look at one that doesn’t involve life or death decisions
A. Abraham’s servant was sent to find a wife for Isaac - Genesis 24:2-4
B. The servant minimized his risks by asking about the possibility of failure - Genesis 24:5-8
C. When the servant arrived, he asked God for help - Genesis 24:12-14
1. The actions he looked for are indications of an admirable character.
2. A woman carrying a water jug shows someone who is strong and healthy.
3. It also shows she is industrious.
4. Giving a drink to a stranger who asks shows kindness and hospitality.
5. Offering drinks to the rest of the travelers and watering the camels until they are satisfied shows a person who is not afraid of hard work and who is willing to go the extra mile. Ten camels after a long journey will drink a large quantity of water.
6. All the events were not likely to happen without the Lord's intervention on behalf of the servant.
D. The result was that Isaac quickly fell in love with Rebekah - Genesis 24:67
E. Could this have failed? Of course!
1. But it succeeded because of the willingness to take reasonable risks.
2. It would not have succeed if all risks were avoided
IV. Years ago, it became a fad to have rules of courtship
A. A boy and girl were not allowed to be alone together. They took someone with them on dates.
B. The boy had to ask the father for permission to date and later to marry his daughter.
C. On the surface, all this sounds good. But it also was driven by a desire to eliminate all risks in finding a spouse
D. However, it ended up limiting options. People married without really knowing what they were looking for in a spouse.
E. Traditional dating carries more risks, but it actually results in better selection of a spouse
1. It is not to be confused with the modern idea of dating
2. One rule is that you don’t go out with the same person twice in a row.
a. You need to know what kinds of people are available
b. But the lack of exclusivity also keeps things from getting too serious too quickly.
c. In other words, going out on a date was no big deal.
3. Dating the same person multiple times in a row happens only after you are more certain that you might want to marry that person. It older terms, it is called “going steady.”
4. There is actually less heartache because there is no early commitment
F. Modern dating is seen as an immediate commitment
1. It often leads people to thinking they can get sexually involved.
2. It also ends up limiting your options because the thought is once you are dating one person, you cannot go on a date with anyone else.
3. But in a sense, it is also avoiding risk. “I might not find another person, so I’ll lock on this person.”
V. God lets people make their own plans
A. Those plans involve risks because you and I don’t control the future
B. Those plans may not succeed because God remains in control - Proverbs 16:1,9
1. Thus, all our plans should consider what is God’s will - Proverbs 16:3
C. This is the same warning James gives - James 4:13-16
1. This is also why we must not throw away opportunities to do good - James 4:17
D. Eliminating all risks is impossible, but I can strive for reasonable risks and accept that sometimes I will fail.