Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Matthew 12:38-45; Acts 18:1-17; Psalm 33; Exodus 17-18
In today’s busy world, time has become a scarce and precious commodity. Pulled in all sorts of directions, we wonder how we will get everything done. It seems the more we do, the more there’s left to do. When asked “How are you?” how often the answer is “Busy!”
Many of us need a Jethro to come alongside and say, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” (Exodus 18:17-18). If it isn’t the voice of a friend, medical studies should get our attention when they point out the health dangers of unrelenting stress.
Moses was called by God for a unique role and had been used powerfully. Success can lead us to think that we have to be involved in everything. In Exodus 17, the battle went well so long as Moses held his hands up in prayer, but faltered when he tired. Yet even there, Moses’ success depended on help from Aaron and Hur. One person’s success often depends on contributions from many others. Jethro pointed out that Moses needed to enlist the help of others and train them to share in the work.
The same approach was adopted by Jesus in training the twelve apostles. Paul did the same with the men and women mentioned in Acts, and explicitly tells Timothy to teach faithful men to teach others in 2 Timothy 2:2. This is discipleship. Rather than one person doing all the work, many people are trained to serve God and others. Along the way they identify their gifting and the significance of serving God in meaningful ways.
Two other factors are implied by Jethro’s approach. Most people would not get a hearing directly with Moses as he focused on difficult cases (18:22). This could lead to bitterness unless people accepted the value of this arrangement. It requires humility to accept that God can use whomever he chooses to advise us. Leadership can mean saying No to some requests. Even Gallio saw this in refused to deal with a dispute that was outside his remit (Acts 18:14-16). This ties into the second implication of this account. Jethro was not a Hebrew and apparently had just come to acknowledge God as the one true God (Exodus 18:10-12). Moses had been meeting God personally and could have questioned Jethro’s right to give him advice. Moses was humble enough to see the wisdom in this new believer’s advice. Wisdom is not the exclusive possession of those who follow God, and we should be open to seeing the wisdom in what others have to say regardless of their experience in the faith.