A Good Father-in-law’s Advice

So I was reading in Exodus tonight and have always liked this story about Moses and his Father-in-law, Jethro, but it really stuck out to me tonight as I read through the story. After Israel defeats Amalek, Jethro and his family come to Moses in the wilderness where he was encamped at the mountain of God. I love how they meet and “ask each other of their welfare” and Moses recounts everything God has done for them since Egypt and Jethro rejoices over it. Jethro says that the Lord is blessed and that he now knows that the Lord is greater than all gods because of what He did. I just love that exchange. More interesting to me than that though, is the passage after that. Jethro sees what Moses is doing the next day, and how he sat all day to judge every single disturbance among the people, and how the people stood around him all day long waiting their turn. This is what Jethro had to say about the system…


Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. [18] You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. [19] Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, [20] and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. [21] Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. [22] And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. [23] If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.” (ESV)Exodus 18:17-23


I just like the way the ESV says that “You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out!” It makes me think of us in our groups and relationships and how important it is to make sure that we do things efficiently to serve God and that we share responsibilities. It shouldn’t be the same people doing all of the “doing”, but we should share the roles and leadership so that we won’t “wear ourselves out” and get discouraged or disinterested in serving God. We are all human, and eventually will “wear out” if we do not take some time to rest our bodies and restore our minds.


I also like how Jethro tells Moses that “You are not able to do it alone.” In our ladies’ Bible class, we have been discussing a lot about opening up to each other and utilizing our relationships to help us through our struggles. So often it is a reflexive reply to say “fine” when someone asks you how you are doing, when really if things aren’t going well with you could be honest about that in a manner that is not overwhelming to the questioning individual and ask for their prayers. It will make you feel better to know that someone is interested in you and praying for you, and it will make you more of a person they can feel comfortable with in the future to come to for support. I feel like we are so concerned about being completely positive constantly and pretending that we have absolutely no problems ever, that we are perfect, but we all know that is impossible and not true. Jethro was encouraging Moses to find people that he could trust, who “hated a bribe and feared God.” We too should look out for people that we can trust and use their support in whatever situation we may be in. I realize that Jethro is advising Moses in a manner to make the process more organized and efficient, but I do feel like these ideals can apply to other aspects of our lives as well. Just a few things to think about. Be a person that gets other involved to share the responsibilities that need to be done, and utilize the relationships that God has so uniquely placed in our lives. He formed those personalities and led them to the same location as you for a reason, so look for how He would have you to use the blessings of a friend, brother and sister in God.

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