No Self-Reliance

The story of Jethro coming to the aid of Moses is an echo of an earlier story. In today’s reading, Moses has been charged with Israel’s care, but the task soon proves to be too much for one person. Observing his solo leadership efforts, Jethro says, “What you’re doing is not good” (Exodus 18:17).

Not good. 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.

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 fruit of the Spirit (Acts 6:1–7). 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 task is too heavy for you. You can’t 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 Scripture, 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. “In this way you will lighten your load, and they will bear it with you. If you do this, and God so directs you, you will be able to endure” (Exodus 18:22–23).

Jen Wilkin

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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