Exodus 18:13-26. “The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. . . .Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good.. . .Now listen to me: I will give you some advice, and God be with you.’ . . .Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.”
Exegesis and Application
If we are to understand the role of the Christian journalist in a post-Christian newsroom, we need to understand common grace.
The Scriptures are full of examples of the Egyptians and the Babylonians teaching the Old Testament Israelites, and the Greeks teaching the New Testament Christians. There was much sanctified borrowing by believers of the ideas and processes from the non-believing world surrounding them.
In our passage we see that by following the advice of the Midianite Jethro, Moses accomplished five significant things:
1) Created the Church’s judicial system after 400 years of being under Egyptian rule.
2) Saved himself from wearing out by doing all the judging, thus preserving himself for future leadership responsibilities (vs. 18)
3) Stopped wearing thin the patience of the Israelites looking for justice. Indeed, there is the hint that after a while the Israelites had been taking matters into their own vigilante hands (vs. 14, 18). After all justice delayed is justice denied (cf. 2 Samuel 15:2-6).
4) Used the gifts and talents of many gifted Israelite men to be judges and leaders (vs. 21).
5) Emphasized that there is no division of the civil from the sacred or the profane from the holy in the Biblical worldview.
So the old pagan Jethro gives his young son-in-law some administrative advice on how to organize the legal administration of the Old Testament Church into manageable units.
This passage is a wonderful example of the Biblical doctrine of common grace (cf, Ps. 145:9; Matt 5:45; Luke 6:35; Acts 14:17; 17:25f; Rom. 13:1-6; etc.) which teaches that God restrains the influence of sin in the world and maintains, enriches and develops the natural life of humankind, generally and individually. The existence of common grace is a result of God’s goodness and graciousness towards His beloved creation.
What does this mean for the Christian journalist?
1) For the Christian journalists, common grace means we must be prepared to learn from our non-Christian colleagues because it may make us more competent to accomplish our divine calling.
2) For the Christian journalist, common grace means that God curbs the destructive power of sin, maintains the moral order of society, distributes creative gifts and talents among all individuals, and develops science and medical arts. God’s common grace generates and sustains human culture, and this understanding should infuse our reporting and writing with hope.
3) For the Christian journalist, common grace, as expressed in Exodus 18, means even some of the most important aspects of human relationships, such as justice, fairness and equity can be illuminated by non-believers.