and Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness, where he was encamped at the
( mountain of God Exodus 18:5)
What is the difference between outlaws and in-laws? Outlaws are wanted! We laugh because it is too often true. The real difficulties dealing with blood relatives may be even more immense in having a good relationships with those connected through marriage.
Exodus 18 shows the way to
productive rather than painful relationships in family life.
ENJOY your family (v.1-6). Jethro desires to see Moses. We should find it a blessing to be around our kin, instead of a burden. Love is a choice. Jethro and Moses chose to love one another. You’ve heard the old definition of mixed emotions? Seeing your mother-in-law drive over a cliff in your new car! That wasn’t true with my late mother-in-law, Louise Crayton. She loved me like a son. We enjoyed each other and now that she and husband Bob are in heaven, I still miss them so much!
Don’t ENVY other family (v.1). Are we excited or envious when other family members succeed? Jethro was thrilled over what God had done through his son-in-law. Recall how Joseph’s brothers envied him (
Gen.37) and wanted to kill him,
setting off a chain reaction of heartache?
Thankfully, there was reconciliation in their relationship. Can we celebrate the achievement of other
ESTABLISH your family (v.2-5). Jethro brought his beloved daughter and precious grandsons to Moses. He knew the Biblical command, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife…” (
Gen.2:24). We have to love enough to let go. We cannot form secure bonds of love in
marriage, until we loosen those with our parents. It isn’t that we ever stop loving and
honoring them, but that our priority becomes the establishment of our new
home. Parents can help or hinder that
EDUCATE your family (v.3-4). The names given to Moses’ sons were full of meaning. They conveyed the Scriptural truth and testified to Moses experience that we are pilgrims in this world, and that to make it through we need God’s help. As God had guided and guarded Moses, so He would be faithful to his sons. Don’t leave the instruction of your children with the church. We can support parents in teaching, but cannot supplant them!
EMBRACE your family (v.7). Their was a genuine affection expressed. Make it a point to tell your family that you love them and hold them close. There will come a time when distance—and ultimately death—will separate you. Love them while you can.
EDIFY your family (v.8-27). You can build each other up, or tear one another down. Moses’ family was bound together in worship (v.8-12). The family that prays together stays together. They were bound together through wisdom (v.13-27). Jethro is concerned for his son-in-law, but doesn’t come across as a know-it-all. The result would be that Moses would not be a “workaholic,” and damage his family relationships, as so often happens. Be a loving in-law and not an outlaw!