I’ve noticed something recently. I have this desire to take advantage of every opportunity, but in so doing, I don’t prioritize anything. It seems like life just keeps speeding up, and everything seems so important.
When I get an invitation, I wait until the very last minute to RSVP “Yes.” After all, what if there are two great things happening on the same night? Sometimes I try to figure out a way to go to both things at the same time. I’ll show up to this one for a couple of minutes then go to the next one. It’s sort of embarrassing to admit, but surely I’m not the only one who does this!
Consider your own life. Do you have a little too much in your life right now, and do you struggle, like I do, to make priorities?
Today we’re going to look at Moses, a man who was sought by millions of people for his wisdom. Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, and he was a great leader. Scholars believe that Moses wrote this psalm toward the end of his life:
“Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away… …Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17
Moses learned a huge lesson in his life: there is limited time, and it’s futile for us to try to do everything. We need to ask God for help, so we can prioritize correctly and make the most out of our time.
Moses delivered the people of Israel from Egypt, where they had been in slavery for 400 years. When he comes back to his family, here’s what happens:
“Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them. Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians.
The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, ‘What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?’ Moses answered him, ‘Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.’” Exodus 18
By the time Jethro visits him, Moses had been judging the people for almost three months. Every day he would get up, sit in the judgment seat, and these people would come with their disputes – imagine 600,000 people, all needing your advice! We think we feel overwhelmed and busy!
Jethro could see what Moses could not. We think that if we don’t do it, it’s not going to happen. We think we’re the only way, just as Moses did.
Jethro watches this, and he realizes he has to step in and give Moses some advice.
“Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘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. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.
But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.” Exodus 18
Later in the chapter, we see that Moses showed great humility and wisdom by taking Jethro’s advice. Here are three things Jethro teaches Moses, and teaches us too.
1. “Moses, you cannot do it alone.”
God never designed us to do his work by ourselves. Throughout the Bible, we are reminded not to try to do everything alone. God knows that, even if we are doing something good, we will wear out and burn out if we don’t have support and teamwork.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9
We can’t do the work God has before us if we try to do all on our own. We have the church, because together led by Jesus, we can do so much more.
2. We must prioritize.
I tend to be reactive and let small urgent things get in the way of what I’m supposed to be doing. Sometimes, I spend so much time reacting to those little crises that I never do the real things that God has for me. I have to prioritize the big stuff.
My relationship with God, marriage, family, work – those things need to take precedent over the other, not-so urgent things that so often get in the way.
3. Sometimes prioritizing isn’t enough – we must ask for help.
Jethro told Moses that he had to give some things up. We need margin and rest. The Word of God tells us we are supposed to have a Sabbath rest, to give us perspective.
Exodus 20 gives us the Ten Commandments, with one of them being the importance of rest. If we don’t make no room for rest, we can’t get the perspective we need. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work… For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.”
Psalm 46 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The word for still means to slacken, to allow to sink, to let it drop.
God knows we have to stop and rest regularly to get perspective. Our lives with Christ are supposed to be filled with joy and freedom. He wants us to be a generous people, but when we’re over-packed, we have no room to be generous to others.
This week, I want to prioritize correctly and put God first. I want to pray: “God, teach me to number my hours, so I can do the work you have put before me and not my agenda…”
This week, I’m going to RSVP (yes or no) right away to any invites I get, and make sure that I take care of my relationship with God and others first, not trying to fit in too much or be everywhere at once. If Moses needed to put God first, ask for help and prioritize, I do too!
In whats areas of your life is God calling you to ask for help, prioritize or rest? Write down your own prayer, asking God for help and wisdom in these areas.