17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.
Exodus 18:17-18 (King James Version)
It’s a truth many of us don’t want to hear: we cannot save the world. We cannot help everybody, every time, everywhere. We’re not the superheroes/heroines we (and others) think we are. We just cannot save the world.
Many of us try to be the “hero/heroine” for others; always trying to rescue them when they’re caught in some issue. This is prevalent in families, close relationships, and in churches; we try to rescue those closest to us. We try to offer some word, do some deed, lend money…etc to help another. All too often, we do this at our own expense. We pour ourselves out over others we forget about ourselves. We think that we may just be able to offer that word, or that act that cane rescue another. God knows I’ve had: been there, done that, brought the T-shirt, and even posted photos on Facebook.
We see a similar situation in tonight’s Scripture. Moses and the Israelites were on their sojourn in the wilderness, when Jethro – Moses’s father-in-law – comes out to see Moses after hearing what God had done for him and the people of Israel. However, Jethro notices something peculiar about his son-in-law. Moses would sit and listen to the people’s cases as a judge from morning to evening all by himself since he could ask God about certain issues; which was the answer he gave Jethro when asked about it. Jethro then gave Moses his counsel in the above Scripture, saying: “This ain’t good what you’re doing. This will burn you and the people out. This is too much for you to do alone” (modern translation). Jethro was telling Moses that he couldn’t save the world. Jethro then advises Moses to select judges for the people-leaving only the tough cases for Moses. Moses heeds Jethro’s advice, making things run smoother and savings Moses’s sanity in the end.
However, we’re not like Moses where we can whip up a support staff to deal with folks’ issues. We’re pretty much going it alone; and as Jethro warned Moses, it’s burning us out. We’re becoming tired and spent. We find that we have no one to listen to us when we need a shoulder to lean on. We eventually become bitter and ugly towards others to the point we won’t help our best friend. We feel used and become more harm than good for others.
We cannot save the world. All we can do is our best to help when possible; however make sure that we keep our spiritual energy stores full. Sometimes, people must go through their issue-especially if it helps them to grow. Others we just have to realize that all the help we offer won’t help; and just have to step back so we don’t get sucked into their issue. Like Moses’s judges, we must use wisdom.
We cannot save the world. A harsh reality. However it’s a reality that can save us and others in the end.
(Image above by Me: Graveyard at Tranquility Church in Green Township, NJ).