Scripture Reading: Exodus 18:1-27, Deuteronomy 17:8-11, Acts 6:1-7
The story of Jethro coming to the aid of Moses is an echo of an earlier story. In fact, so are the first eighteen chapters of Exodus. In them, we find a creation narrative patterned after Genesis 1. You could sum their message succinctly as, “And God said, ‘Let there be Israel.’ And it was so.” The newly-minted nation, like the newly-formed earth, is good. Moses has been charged with its care, but the task soon proves to be too much for one person. Observing his solo leadership efforts, Jethro says, “What you are doing is not good” (Exodus 18:17).
Jethro’s words echo God’s words in Genesis 2: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). If there is to be orderly ruling and subduing, if there is to be fruitfulness and multiplication as God has decreed, the work cannot be done alone. Just as God provided Eve to be a necessary ally to Adam, He now provides Jethro and the leaders of Israel to be necessary allies to Moses.
Don’t miss this: The concept of self-reliance is wholly foreign to the Christian faith. We are created to need God and others. We are designed for interdependence and community. There is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian. It matters that we understand this as we listen for the echo of our own story in that of Moses.
Every believer’s story is this: “And God said, ‘Let there be new life,’ and it was so.” You and I may not be called to bring orderly rule to a nation, as Moses did, but we are called to submit our hearts to God as He brings orderly rule to our hearts as new creations in Christ. The Bible calls this sanctification. In God’s name, we take dominion over sin. We cultivate the fruitfulness of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Like Moses and Adam, we are called to rule and subdue, to be fruitful and multiply. And like them, it is not good to attempt the good work alone. Nor is it necessary. God has provided necessary allies for us.
First, He has sent His Spirit to comfort and convict. Any effort to grow in holiness apart from the help of the Spirit will teach us, as Jethro says, “The thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone” (Exodus 18:18). But He also sends help in the form of Christian community. He provides us teachers to guide us through the scriptures, mentors to guide us in wisdom, brothers and sisters to encourage us and hold us accountable.
What sin are you striving to rule in your own strength? The thing is too heavy for you. Ask for the Spirit to train and convict you. Seek the ready help of the family of God. Trade self-reliance for the gift of dependence on the Spirit and interdependence with the saints. “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” (Exodus 18:22-23).
Jen Wilkin is a wife, mom to four great kids, and an advocate for women to love God with their minds through the faithful study of his Word. She writes, speaks, and teaches women the Bible. She lives in Flower Mound, Texas, and her family calls The Village Church home. Jen is the author of None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing) and Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds.