As a youngster, I enjoyed watching reruns of a TV show called “The Beverly Hillbillies.” My favorite character was Jethro Bodine, who was constantly exhibiting a less-than-brilliant approach towards life.
He was notorious for misunderstanding things and for getting himself into trouble due to his lower-than-normal IQ.
Concerning Jethro, Jed Clampett (Jethro’s uncle) said, “If brains was lard, Jethro couldn’t grease a pan.”
In short, if Jethro Bodine was giving out advice, you might want to think twice before you take it.
The Bible, however, tells us about another “Jethro” in Exodus 18. He was Moses’s father-in-law, and he had packed up Moses’s family to come and visit him in the wilderness while he was leading the Israelites (not quite Beverly Hills). When Jethro arrived, he saw that Moses was spending his days judging the disputes of God’s people. They would stand around him “from morning til evening” (vs. 13) and Moses would singlehandedly help them settle their issues with one another.
As Jethro observed this practice, he told Moses, “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” (vs. 17-18). Jethro suggested a plan/strategy where Moses would handle “every great matter” (vs. 22) and a chosen group of qualified men would handle everything else.
This was good advice. Moses listened to Jethro, and this plan lightened his load considerably.
Occasionally in life, we take on too much responsibility for ourselves, don’t we? We allow the loads and burdens of life to pile up (or to be piled up on us) and we find ourselves worn out and overwhelmed. We become frustrated, and all of the people we are trying to help are probably frustrated as well.
What should we do in these situations? Should we continue to model the behavior of Jethro Bodine, where we misunderstand the situation and end up causing more trouble for ourselves and for everyone around us? Instead, perhaps we should take the advice of another Jethro and ask for some help.
We can begin by casting our anxieties upon God (I Pet. 5:7), realizing that He wants to help bear our burdens. This should be our first “stop” on the path towards getting some relief, and it should be a great comfort to know that God cares about our anxieties!
After this, we need to allow God’s Church to help us. The Church is a family (I Tim. 3:15), a body (I Cor. 12), and place where we can find support and encouragement (Heb. 10:24-25). Are we taking advantage of this, or are we allowing ourselves to become isolated and overwhelmed, like Moses? Is the Church a place we GO or a group of people we are PART of? There is a big difference, isn’t there?
If this kind of thing can happen to someone like Moses, it can happen to anyone. Moses wasn’t a proud person, and he wasn’t opposed to allowing others to help him (Numbers 12:3 tells us that he was the meekest man on the face of the earth!), but he had gradually allowed himself to become more “important” than he needed to be.
Take some time this week and analyze your life. Are there some anxieties that God could take from you? Are there some ways that the Lord’s Church could help you bear your burdens? If so, take the advice of Jethro and make some changes!
May God help all of us to be reminded that we need HIM and we need EACH OTHER!!