Moses was the de facto leader of the Israelites as they wandered around in the desert for years. This guy talked directly with God and was God’s spokesman to an entire nation of people. There are many examples of his obedience and response to God throughout the Bible; we could talk about the time Moses went to Pharaoh even though he was scared, or when he held his staff up and parted the Red Sea, or when he struck the rock and water came out, or when he came up to commune with God on the top of a mountain. But today we’re going to focus on a passage that contains one of my favorite things: practicality.
How do you respond to godly wisdom in your life? What about if the advice goes against what you’re doing? Or what about when that goes against what you think is best?
Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law and one day he made a trip to visit his son-in-law and see all that God had been doing in the people of Israel. He worshiped God and offered sacrifices when he heard of all God had been doing and, in typical fashion, they had a big feast together – talk about a good time!
The next day was “take your father-in-law to work” day, so Jethro tagged along as Moses went about his daily business: sitting and judging the matters of the people. Moses was the only one who would sit and hear the Israelites’ disputes – there was no one else. The man who had just been singing Moses’ praises the night before suddenly pointed out a problem with their current system.
“What you are doing is not good. 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. 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, 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. 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. 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. 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.” Exodus 18:17-23 (ESV)
Talk about a humbling opportunity! Your father-in-law just told you that your standard operating procedure isn’t good, it’s ineffective, it’s not sustainable, and it’s going to hurt you and all the people you’re leading. Ouch! Moses could’ve decided to be offended by this comment, but instead he obeyed and submitted to the wisdom of this man he respected. And, it turned out that Jethro was right, this system of empowerment was an important one that helped Moses to focus on being the mouthpiece of God to a nation that was in desperate need of him.
I don’t like being told that I’m doing things wrong. Period. I like being right and I like being the best and I surely don’t like humbling myself to accept the advice of someone else! Yet, how I respond to godly wisdom reveals a lot about my character and what I think about God. I encourage you to take a few minutes to examine your response to the wisdom given by God-fearing people around you. My hope is that we will all respond like Moses and humbly accept the wisdom that will help us and those around us and further the Gospel and love of Christ!
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