“It Takes a Village”
Exodus 18: 9-23
*In 1994, The Chicago Tribune ran the story of Marcio DaSilva, a Brazilian artist who was head over heels in love with his girlfriend, Katia. She ended the relationship after 4 years. He tried to win her back by walking on his knees to her house which was 9 miles away. Marcio was 21 and fit but the 14-hour trip on his knees took its toll. Cars passing by honked in approval because word had gotten around what he was doing. Katia was not amused and actually left her house before he arrived. Marcio was crushed (Cont. Illustrations, Larsen, 94).
All of us are wired for relationships. We hate loneliness; we turn on the television if the room is quiet or open a browser looking for a friend and praying someone will respond favorably to our Facebook posts. Many of us project a tough and independent exterior but down deep, we need others. A lack of meaningful relationships is why 600,000 teenagers attempt suicide each year. The reason that many people give themselves sexually is that we want to be wanted!
*The famous Albert Einstein reportedly said, Why is it that I am so universally known and yet so lonely? (Why Believe? Laurie, 19).
Senator Hillary Clinton proposed the idea in the early 1990’s that kids today cannot be adequately raised without governmental and community programs, and that the village, aka the government is required for successful parenting. Her suggestion raised the ire of many conservatives who bristled at governmental intervention in child-rearing.
As people of faith, we do need a village, a village full of the warmth and security of others and a commitment to Christ and his mission for us on the earth, and we do that best in groups.
In the NT, we read that a church met in the house of Prisca and Aquila in Romans 16:5. Paul complimented Philemon on the church in his house (Philemon 2). And a lady named Nympha opened up her home to the church as we read in Col. 4:15.
1500 years earlier -600,000 men and a total of 2 million Israelites camped out for 40 years
-Exodus records their departure from 430 years of slavery in Egypt.
-Chapter 14 the Egyptian chariots wobbled and they drowned.
-Chapter 14 -Moses sang a song of deliverance, and Miriam danced with joy then they complained about the bad water in Marah.
-Chapter 16 – they were hungry and grumbled and criticized their leaders.
-Chapter 17 -records their lack of water and the problems that caused.
If 2 million people needed each other during the largest campout in history, so do we and the truth is that we all need a village. Once we join the village and throw away our spirit of isolationism, benefits emerge not only for us but for others as well.
1. Life has meaning, purpose and vision when our hearts are full of love and grace.
Moses had relocated his wife Zipporah and their 2 sons to his Uncle Jethro’s house during the exodus, perhaps for safekeeping during this difficult time.
Moses’ heart was full of grace and love which enabled him to see a vision for his life. Do you live without vision, simply existing from day to day with no vision for future? When grace and love is missing, our hearts grow cold and lifeless, vision dries up and meaninglessness takes over.
And Jethro rejoiced over all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, in delivering them from the hand of the Egyptians. Exodus 18:9, NAS
They had been released from enslavement or entanglement with a tyrant.
They had been released from a life of fear.
They caught a glimpse of hope and knew that God had a better plan.
The lesson you will never live a life of hope until you live with a heart full of grace and love!!
Notice the residual effects of love:
Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless there were, like sheep with no shepherd. Matthew 9: 36-37, The Message.
The results of grace and love in our hearts is this:
- We want others to grow in their relationship with Jesus.
- We can see beyond ourselves and suddenly realize that isolation is deadly.
- The shepherding instinct in our hearts takes over when we look at others.
2. Our lives are blessed when we invest our lives with others.
Jethro was wise and quickly diagnosed a problem in their ranks. He asked Moses,
……………Why do you alone sit as judge and all the people stand about you from morning until evening? And Moses said to his father- in – law, “Because the people come to me and inquire of God. When they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and make known the statutes of God and His laws.” Exodus 18: 14-16, NAS
Moses had a load he could not bear. He loved the people but was overloaded! Jethro threw down the gauntlet to his nephew, Moses and demanded change.
You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. Exodus 18: 18, NAS
The point is that churches can take of themselves if we all pull together.
I Peter 4:10, NLT – “God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.”
We are a distribution center for God’s love, rather than silos that merely store the gifts and blessings we receive.
* The late Los Angeles pastor, Dr. E.V. Hill tells the story of his early marriage when he could not adequately provide for his family. He struggled in every way and even experienced a huge loss in the purchase of a small service station. He came home one evening and found the house lit up with candles and a nice meal on the table. His wife said she thought it would be nice to dine by candlelight. He walked into the bathroom to wash his hands and hit the light switch. Nothing happened. The utilities were off. She said, “You work so hard. I didn’t want to tell you. We’ll be ok.”
Life is all about others, not ourselves.