11: Building Godly Character
It is a mark of Moses’ meekness that he was able to receive advice from his wife’s father. But that is not the point of this missive. Jethro had spent only one day with Moses, and he quickly discerned that his son-in-law needed to delegate his responsibilities to others or he and the people he was leading would suffer. (See Exodus 18:17-19.)
Jethro not only correctly diagnosed the problem, he offered a solution. He outlined his plan for able men to have jurisdiction “over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” He then proceeded to outline the qualifications for these “able men.”
“Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe” (Exodus 18:21). The primary characteristic of these men was their character. They were to be trustworthy, fear God, and hate bribes. I can’t help but dream of the day when these will be the traits and qualifications for our judges, lawyers, and legislators!
Notice that Jethro didn’t recommend they have a two-year degree in law or a diploma from the University of Cairo. He didn’t recommend scholars who had done advanced work on the Decalogue, or specify they must take a written exam on the Pentateuch. It wasn’t what they knew that defined these men, it was what they were. The inner man was most important.
Character is built and taught at home, not in an academic institution. You can’t take courses on Honesty 101. Values are passed on from parents to children. More attitudes are caught than taught. Sandi and I always felt that character training was our number-one goal. Reading, writing, and arithmetic had their place but were a distant second to integrity, honesty, and truthfulness. We hoped for sons who not only knew what honesty meant but lived it out.
If we want trustworthy men of integrity who fear God and hate bribes to find their places in our churches, communities, businesses, and governments, we must model and teach God’s word diligently to our children, and talk of them when “we sit in our house, and when we walk by the way, and when we lie down, and when we rise.”
For Godly Character,