Watch First, Then Help

“Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They asked each other of their welfare and went into the tent. Then Moses told [him] all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the Lord had delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. Jethro said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you…  Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods…’

“The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and they stood around Moses from morning till evening. When [Jethro] saw all that he was doing.., he said, ‘What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?’ Moses said, ‘Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide…’ [Jethro] said, ‘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… 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 make them know… what they must do. Moreover, look for able men who fear God, who are trustworthy.., and place [them] over the people as chiefs…  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 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 will go to their place in peace.’

“So Moses listened to [Jethro] and did all he said. Moses chose able men and made them heads over the people… Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves. Then [Jethro] went away to his own country.” Exodus 18:7-11,13-27

When Jethro visited Moses, his intention was to return his wife and sons. But God made the short visit count for much good in Moses’s and others’ lives. Once Jethro had heard all God has done, he realized how mightily God was using his son-in-law as Israel’s leader. He listened, he watched, and the Lord directed his objective observation into wise counsel for His man. The advice he gave enabled Moses to thrive in his strengths, and other leaders to develop theirs. (Exodus 18:1-6)

Are we prone to haste? How often do we jump right into a circumstance laden with ideas, opinions, and advice without first seeking God’s wisdom, or considering the big picture and specific needs of those we are ‘helping’? Do we esteem our own experiences above the ones of those we serve, or our smarts more than omniscient God’s? What difference would it make for individuals in our community, or under our care or supervision, if we watched, waited on the Lord, and consider all aspects of a situation before acting?

Father, help me be measured and discerning as I observe and advise. Grant me spiritual insight, wisdom, and graciousness for every situation and friend.

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