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Exodus 18:1-27

Called To Be Teachable

  • Shawn Dean
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • August 22, 2021

This is a life lesson because in Exodus 18 we are going to watch as Moses gets corrected and criticized. Watch how this man of God responds.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Called To Be Teachable
Exodus 18:1-27
August 22, 2021(PM)

Remember my sermon about the Red Sea – what is your red sea in life?
Close your eyes – picture in your mind the food on earth you absolutely hate…
You know that sense of revulsion you pictured in your mind? It’s been my experience and I’ve had to check my own attitude at the door, when it comes to criticism, correction, advice, unwanted suggestions…

This is a life lesson, because in Exodus 18 we are going to watch as Moses gets corrected and criticized. Watch how this man of God responds.
Background – After Moses led the Israelites through the Red Sea, out of Egypt, then he went down South towards Mt Sinai, the area where Moses had spent 40 years tending the sheep for Jethro, his father-in-law. Jethro comes to visit. Remember Jethro was one who sent word that he heard about the events of the Red Sea…

I. Godly Counsel Produces Teachability

Now Moses could have stopped Jethro and said something like, who do you think you are – I’m the one who talked to God at the burning bush – I’m the one God used to part the Red Sea…Jethro, you are giving me advice?
Not his attitude at all was it?

He listened and did everything he advised. What was Jethro’s advice to Moses?

This advice forms the very foundation, the American system of jurisprudence we have today; we have state courts, circuit courts, district courts, appellate courts…these are the officials and judges over thousands of more simple issues.

• Then we have the Supreme Court – like Moses in the text – who handles the more difficult cases.
• 3500 years later we are still following Jethro in our court system.

Jethro gave Moses good advice – and Moses had humility and good sense – the teachability and approachability to take Jethro’s advice and implement it. Result; Moses benefited personally and so did the entire nation of Israel.

A. Our mouth reflects our heart

Moses’ reaction to Jethro’s criticism, his advice in Exodus 18 is impressive; call it teachability, approachability – call it whatever you want but, it’s impressive given the stature he had been given, the reputation he built – it is impressive that he would listen to the advice of someone else.

Now let’s look at you and I – admit when it comes to accepting criticism and / or advice in our world today, most of us struggle with it.
What does the Bible say that problem is?

Proverbs 21:2; Every person’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord examines the hearts.

• Most of the time most of us think we are right – the ability of human beings to justify our actions as correct, because we believe we are right, is phenomenal –
• Adam justified eating from the tree – – Cain justified killing his brother Abel – – David somehow justified murdering Bathsheba’s husband, a man named Uriah in cold blood…
• Somehow every one of these people when they did what they did convinced themselves they were right.

I’ve listened to hundreds of followers of Christ justify amazing behavior, while being certain they were right when every spec of common sense and every spec of the Bible said they were wrong. Yet they felt otherwise.

• The problem as sinful human beings, we are all prone to believe our way is the right way when the truth is, most of us ask for very little advice and most of us want less.
• And what that means is that we end up making some incredibly painful and destructive decisions in life.

B. Wisdom is reflected by our responses

The solution is we need to be more like Moses in Exodus 18 – – learn to be teachable like Moses was in this chapter we are studying – – what exactly does it mean to be teachable?
First, what it doesn’t mean –

• Do not feel obligated to take every piece of ad-vice people offer, nor does it mean we have to agree with every criticism leveled against us – – that the criticism is valid or correct.
What it does mean positively is that we exhibit a 3-part response when somebody criticizes us and makes a suggestion or gives us advice.

1. Listen without defensiveness.

2. Honestly pray about the the criticism and think about it – ask God to show us if any validity to it.

3. To degree God shows us that this criticism has validity, to that degree we determine to make changes in our life and in our behavior with the help of the Holy Spirit.

In other words, a teachable spirit may sound like this when someone gives you advice or correction.

1. I appreciate what you are saying, what you are telling me.

2. Let me have some time to think and pray about it.

3. I’ll get back to you on it after I’ve had this time. If I’m doing something wrong, if God confirms it with me, I’ll make a change.

Now that’s a teachable spirit – Bible is clear that we reveal the kind of person we are by how we respond to criticism – criticism is a huge spiritual litmus test for our lives…

II. Teachability Will Bring Blessings

A wise person distinguishes himself/herself by responding to criticism with a teachable spirit –

Proverbs 1:5; A wise person will hear and increase in learning, And a person of understanding will acquire wise counsel,

Proverbs 12:15; The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a person who listens to advice is wise.

Proverbs 19:20; Listen to advice and accept discipline, So that you may be wise the rest of your days.

Proverbs 15:5; A fool rejects his father’s discipline, But he who complies with rebuke is sensible.

A. A fool ignores advice

Conversely, the Bible says, a fool is a person who is utterly unteachable, a fool is a person who utterly ignores all criticism and advice.

Proverbs 12:1; One who loves discipline loves knowledge, But one who hates rebuke is stupid.

Proverbs 15:12; A scoffer does not love one who rebukes him; He will not go to the wise.

Proverbs 27:22; Though you pound the fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, His foolishness still will not leave him.

Every time you read this verse you should think of Pharaoh, in Exodus, a guy who had plague after plague after plague, the Lord pounded this guy.

• Like Proverbs 27 trying to teach him he was wrong – wrong about God – wrong about the Israelites – wrong about not letting them go – still this guy just didn’t get it. Qualifies him as a fool.

As followers of Christ, we need to be careful whose footsteps we follow in –

• Nobody likes being criticized.
• Nobody enjoys someone correcting us.
• Children don’t like it when parents do it, students don’t like it when the teacher does it, athletes don’t like when the coach does it, employees don’t like it when the boss does it, military personnel don’t like it when their commanding officers do it, husbands don’t like it when their wives do it…and wives don’t like it when their husbands do it.

B. Blessed are those who respond with humility

But, God makes it clear here in the Bible that He blesses a man, a woman, the young person – who has the humility to respond to criticism with teachability – He calls such a person a wise man or woman.

• If we know as followers of Christ that this is what He says in the Bible, we know God says a teachable spirit is one He blesses and honors –
• Question – – why is it that more of us are not more teachable?

Answer – Teachability depends on humility – and humility is a commodity that is in very short sup-ply in our modern world.
But you can’t be teachable unless you are humble – because part of teachability means admitting you might be wrong – and that’s a statement of humility.

C. Humility leads to teachability

It’s worth repeating – humility leads to teachability which leads to a life blessed by God.

Proverbs 29:23; A person’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.

Proverbs 13:18; Poverty and shame will come to one who neglects discipline, But one who complies with rebuke will be honored.

Therefore, you and I want to become more teach-able – ask God for help – cultivate true humility – God will help you grow – becoming more teachable will come with humility.

• Don’t go out and try to cultivate teachability – it doesn’t work that way.

A.W. Tozer; “A state of heart that rejected rebuke was characteristic of Israel at various periods in her history and these periods were invariably fol-lowed by disaster. Churches and individual Chris-tians today often fall into this same error that destroyed Israel with the same sad result. Keep your heart open to the correction of the Lord and be willing to receive it regardless of who holds the whip. Tozer’s Conclusion – the great saints all learned how to take a lick-in gracefully and that may be one reason why they became great saints.”

As followers of Christ may God help each one of us to cultivate this same kind of teachable spirit that Moses had in Exodus 18 – doesn’t matter how high up the totem pole you are, how much power you amass or esteem you are regarded with in your company.

• Doesn’t matter – we are all human – all capable of being wrong – Moses, who attained his position – yet he realized he may be wrong – we have to have that same understanding – same humility – cultivated with God’s help.

So when someone comes up and says can I give you a piece of advice, we’ll be able to say sure, let me hear it, might not agree with it, but I’m open to listening. That’s a Christlike person, a person walking in the footsteps of Moses.

Exodus 18    NASB

1 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard about everything that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2 And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took in Moses’ wife Zipporah, after he had sent her away, 3 and her two sons, [a]one of whom was named Gershom, for Moses said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.” 4 And [b]the other was named [c]Eliezer, for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

5 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses [d]in the wilderness where he was camped, at the mountain of God. 6 And he [e]sent word to Moses: “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her.” 7 Then Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and he bowed down and kissed him; and they asked each other about their welfare, and went into the tent. 8 Moses told his father-in-law everything that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had confronted them on the journey, and how the Lord had rescued them. 9 And Jethro rejoiced over all the goodness which the Lord had done for Israel, [f]in rescuing [g]them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 So Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods; indeed, [h]it was proven when they acted insolently against [i]the people.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat [j]a meal with Moses’ father-in-law before God.
13 And it came about the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood before Moses from the morning until the evening. 14 Now when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?” 15 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I judge between someone and his neighbor and make known the statutes of God and His laws.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law then said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good. 18 You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 19 Now listen to me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God, 20 then admonish them about the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do. 21 Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that they will bring to you every major matter, but they will judge every minor matter themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will carry the burden with you. 23 If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their places in peace.”

24 So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything that he had said. 25 Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and [aa]of tens. 26 Then they judged the people at all times; they would bring the difficult matter to Moses, but they would judge every minor matter themselves. 27 Then Moses said goodbye to his father-in-law, and Jethro went his way to his own land.


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