Text: Exodus 18:1-27
No man is an island in the service of the Lord. This principle holds true also for the leadership of the church. No man can bear the burden of leadership alone. He cannot be everywhere all the time. He needs other men to serve alongside him.
This principle of “no man is an island” can be seen in the system of church leadership in the Bible- Presbyterian Church. In the Presbyterian system of church governance (which we believe to be the biblical system), the rule of the church is by a board of elders consisting of the teaching elder(s), that is, the pastor, and the ruling elders. The board of elders is further assisted in administration by a team of deacons.

In our text today, we saw how Moses was heavily burdened by the affairs of the children of Israel. Many scholars estimated the congregation to number about two million. How can one man listen to all the problems of the people alone? He will soon be overly burdened. This was the observation of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses who promptly told him, “What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?… The thing that thou doest is not good. 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.” (Exo. 18:14, 17b-18) Moses will soon tire himself out, and that would be detrimental not only to himself but also to the entire congregation of Israel.

Jethro further advised Moses that he must be focused on the primary duty, which had been entrusted to him by the Lord. “Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.” (Exo. 18:19b-20) In application to the local church context, the pastor must be able to focus on his chief duty in feeding the flock of God. He cannot be doing all the duties of the church alone.

For Moses to be focused on his chief duty, there must be distribution of labour. However, Moses must also be helped by the right men. If these men were unqualified, they would soon bring down the work of the Lord. Thus, Jethro advised Moses that those chosen must be “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.” (Exo. 18:21). We must not fail to observe that these criteria are spiritual qualifications and not that which is carnal.

1. Able Men – This refer to men who are spiritually competent and qualified. They must be spiritually mature men and not novices.

2. Fear God – This is the reverence of God and His Word, which will result in obedience to the Lord. A man who fears God will also not fear men. Otherwise, decisions will always be made in favour of those whom one sees as “powerful” or “likeable” in one’s eyes. When threats are made, these men would capitulate. However, if he is wholly devoted to the fear of the Lord, his concern will be the approval of God and not men.

3. Men of Truth – John 17:17 declares that God’s Word is Truth. Thus, this qualification describes men who love and live according to the Word of God. Their lives are an example of Christ-likeness. Their decisions are based solely on the Scripture, which is the sole and supreme authority of the Christian’s faith and practice. They will not practise situational ethics, but will be objective, and to take the side of those who hold on to righteousness and truth.

4. Hating Covetousness – A man who covets desires something that belongs to others. Such a man can be easily bought when he is offered the object of his lust – power, money, sex etc. If such men enter the leadership, decisions will be made according to their self-interest. However, a man who hates covetousness is fully focused in the pursuit of godliness and the glory of God. He holds to the divine principle of economics – godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Tim 6:6).

The church elections are approaching. The details of the elections will be made known to you via mail. We need a team of spiritually mature and competent men who can hold the fort. No man is an island. May the Lord find it pleasing to grant such men into the leadership of Tabernacle BPC to the praise and glory of Christ’s name.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew


Christian Cardiology V – The Merciful Heart  Preacher James Tan 

“Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:”  Proverbs 24:17 

The proverb focuses on our reactions towards our “enemy”. These are situations when others seek to do injustice to us, when we face some form of persecution or harassment for the sake of Christ. The human heart might even be tempted to desire that some form of retribution or vengeance will come upon this “enemy”. 

At some point, the “enemy” might suffer some form of evil, when the person “falleth”, or “stumbleth”, regardless if it is their own doing, or the Lord’s vengeance. When this “enemy” suffers some form of evil, it is not for the Christian to “rejoice” and “be glad”. The Chinese proverb – 幸灾乐祸, expresses this well. We must never rejoice in a time of disaster and calamity of our enemies. Sometimes we secretly fall into this sin, when we smirk, and think in our hearts that this person is so deserving of this evil. We are glad when the “enemy” makes a mistake. At last, the person who gives to us a hard time is finally going to suffer!

Proverbs 24:17 guards our heart against such sinful malice, which does not reflect the Lord’s mercy at all. We have the highest example of Christ Himself, who wept for His beloved people who would suffer judgment in the future, including the Pharisees and those who condemned Him (Luke 19:41). David likewise mourned when news of Saul’s death reached him (2 Sam 1:17-27), even though Saul repeatedly attempted to kill him. 

This is reflective of God’s merciful nature, where He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). It is His desire that the wicked would “turn from his way and live”, to repent and believe in Him. 

The Christian heart must be merciful too, as the testimony of Christ is at stake. If we do not show forth the mercies of Christ, how then, can we expect that others would call upon, and believe in God’s mercies?