Do not conform to the way of the world.
When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her daughters. Despite Ella's kindness and courage, one day, her stepfamily's emotional abuse finally gets to her, and she runs out of the house, mounts her horse, and rides through the forest, when she comes across a great stag. Hearing the king's hunting party approaching, she warns the stag and tries to serve as a distraction so that the innocent animal can get away. Little does she know who she is about to meet.
Bravery, The world, Courage, Approval, Conform
Prince Kit rides at the lead of his hunting party, looking magnificent. He notices a maid riding alongside him in the woods, seemingly out of control. He turns aside to go to her aid. “Miss, are you alright?” the Prince calls out to her. The Prince helps to calm Ella's horse and the two stop in a clearing. “I'm alright,” Ella tells him, “but you've nearly frightened the life out of him!” “Who,” the Prince asks. “The stag,” Ella tells him. “What's he ever done to you that you should chase him about.” The Prince laughs a little. “I must confess, I've never met him before. He is a friend of yours?” he asks jokingly. “An acquaintance,” Ella explains. “We met just now. I looked into his eyes and he looked into mine, and I just felt he had a great deal left to do with his life. That's all.” Utterly perplexed, amused, and intrigued, the Prince begins getting know Ella, and realizes she has no idea who he is. He introduces himself as “Kit” and takes the time to find out more about her and who she is. Kit is inspired by Ella's devotion to having courage and being kind, with which he whole heartedly agrees, but then Ella's courage is truly put to the test. The hunting horns begin to blare, and Ella's mind returns to the innocent stag. “Please don't let them hurt him.” The Prince laughs, “But we're hunting, you see. It's what's done.” Ella, incensed, says, “Just because it's what's done doesn't mean it's what should be done.” Again, amazed and perplexed by the girl, Prince Kit replies, “Right again...” “Then...” Ella says with a smile, “... you'll leave him alone, won't you?” The Prince thinks for a moment and then says, “I will.” Ella smiles and says, “Thank you, Mr. Kit.”
At this, the first meeting of Ella and the Prince, Kit is perplexed and amazed at this girl who is so different. She's riding, alone in the woods, undaunted and unafraid. She inspires him with her devotion to courage and kindness. And, at the end of the day, Ella is willing to go against cultural norms and look at things not as they are, but as they should be. Prince Kit is inspired by this girl and her devotion to what she believes and her willingness to stand for it. As Christians, we should take a page out of Ella's book. When society, and even the Prince, say this is the way things are done, Ella holds to her convictions and doesn't let the culture of the day define what is right and wrong. Paul tells us in Romans that we should not conform to the ways of the world, but be transformed by following God's will for our lives and discerning what is right and wrong (Romans 12:2). It doesn't matter if our fellow man says it's the “thing to do,” we look for our approval from God, not man (Galatians 1:10). Though no one watches her or what she does, Ella retains her good character, and she does it because it is the right thing to do, and not because she seeks approval from man (1 Thessalonians 2:4). The Prince could disagree with her, but she holds to her convictions. But Jesus does warn us to be careful about how we show our righteousness to the world. We are to let our light shine to bring glory to our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16), and not simply to be noticed by men for our good deeds (Matthew 6:1). Ella went against “what is done,” in favor of “what should be done,” not for the Prince's approval (indeed, he may have greatly disapproved), but because it was what she believed in, and the Prince was moved to action. Because of Ella living out her convictions and responding with courage and grace, the Prince could see the difference that her beliefs made in her life, and he listened to her. So the next time you're put in a position where what culture says may not be the right thing, remember, God may not be the only one watching. The choices you make could have eternal impact in the lives of those who are watching to see if you will live out what you say you believe.