Why does this matter? Why are we talking about Israel's refusal to take spoils from the battle at Purim?
Because we are a people like the Jews in Persia.
We are a people of God at home in an exile, living in a place where He has told us to put down our roots and to make our homes, while also praying for the peace and prosperity of the place where we live. (Yes, He said this about Babylon, but it holds true for Persia, too.) We are a people who are settled here, who have established our own households and our own rhythms. We are a people for whom the only thing truly at stake is whether we live here or die here.
And yet, we are a people living like we are on a war path with the culture.
We are a people living like we're still in Exodus, living like we're still on our way toward the Promised Land and like we have to be tearing a new path through this world, kicking butt and taking name. We are at odds with so much of the stuff around us, and our natural inclination is to go through and start burning everything. It's all too impure, we cry! It will never glorify God. It will lead us only down the paths to corruption. And on and on and on we go.
But that's not who we are as a people in this world. Not after Calvary. Not after the empty tomb.
Nor are we a people for whom God has not abundantly provided. We aren't a people who have to claim a bunch of stuff so that our empty houses have something to offer to God. We aren't a people who need all these things that we think we can pass through the fire. We aren't building our houses any more. We aren't purifying the land.
We are a settled people. We are a people for whom God has provided. We are a people living in relative security all while knowing that this is not our home. We don't belong here. This isn't what God planned for us. So, like Jews in Persia who always had one eye on Jerusalem, we've always got one eye on Eternity, but that doesn't change the nature of who we are right here and right now.
And we have got to stop living like we're on a war path with this world.
We have got to stop living like we're a people of Exodus, like we're just wandering. We have got to stop living like God is still building our house. We have got to stop living like it's our job to destroy all of the impure things around us.
God has called us to take care of our house in a place like this. To build our home. To establish our own purity/cleanliness. To draw our own lines. He has called us to live in peace with those around us and to celebrate the blessing He's poured out in our lives that enables us to live here the way that we do. He has called us to keep one eye on heaven, yes, but to be a settled people, as well.
We're at home here. Temporary home, but still home. So our relationship to the spoils here must be like that of the Jews in Persia - take nothing but your life itself, if God so grants it to you.