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  • Writer's picturePatty

Moses and "the Cookie Principle"

Read Exodus 18:1-26

I like to make cookie balls ahead-of-time and store them in the refrigerator or freezer. That way, we can have a fresh treat when we want it, and this week seemed like a good time for chocolate chip cookies. When the timer sounded, signaling that they were finished, I removed them from the oven only to discover that I had once again, added a bit less flour than needed. They were fairly flat and thin. Now, they are edible this way, but they tend to be a bit flimsy and therefore, they have a tendency to fall apart. The solution? I merely have to add additional flower to the remaining balls and reform them. They are much better when they aren't spread out and too thin.

In today's reading from Exodus 18, we discover that Moses learned that same lesson. No, as far as we know, there were no manna cookie balls, but Moses the man of God was in danger of being spread too thin. As the chapter opens, Moses' father-in-law has come to Israel's encampment along with Moses' wife and two sons. We aren't told how long they had been with Jethro, but it was evidently time for the family to be reunited. After Moses told his father-in-law all that God had done for the children of Israel and how they had been delivered out of Egypt, Jethro realized that Jehovah was greater than all the so-called gods, and he offered a sacrifice to Him. So far, so good. The next day, Jethro observed all that went on. Can we imagine Moses sitting to judge the matters the people brought to him? What a huge job After all, when the children of Israel were delivered out of Egypt, there were more than 600,000 men who were above the age of twenty. There might have been between two and three million people who were there at Mount Sinai. No wonder Moses worked from morning to night, and no wonder Jethro had Godly advice for him. He was surely in danger of being spread so thin that he might wear out both him and the people. We all know that being stretched out in so many directions can cause a person to fall apart with only the slightest tug. Moses' desire to serve was commendable, but his father-in-law knew he couldn't keep doing all he was doing. His solution? Add more help. Divide the work. Oh Moses would still teach the people, but his one-on-one judging would only be for the most difficult cases. The burden would be shared, and Moses would not break apart under too great a load. Thankfully, Moses took his father-in-law's advice.

Could someone have Moses' problem today? Could the myriad of good activities available cause someone to run in so many directions that Moses' father-in-law's words might be needed? Is it sometimes helpful to diminish what we do so that our work is deeper and richer and even more of a blessing to those we serve? Perhaps we aren't spread too thin; instead, maybe we haven't yet begun to serve the Lord.

There is a sweet solution in the Bible for that too. In 1 Corinthians 12, we are reminded that God has given gifts to His people. The Holy Spirit has given them to each believer according to His will for the common good. When we work together, using our gifts as God enables us, we make it possible to lighten someone's load. When we do this, we will be like those who helped Moses care for all those people.

Lord, show us if we are spread too thin, not spread out enough or are, at this time just right. We rely on Your Spirit to help us each day and show us how and where to serve.

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