Humble Service (A WIS Reprint)

F. Butcher

Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. (Exodus 2:17).

How affecting it is to read about Mosesí great renunciation! He was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in word and deed. He was called the son of Pharaohís daughter, and doubtless lived in luxury, served by an army of attendants. But one day he deliberately turned his back upon the brilliant life at court to take his place with the despised Israelites. "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of reward" (Heb. 11:24-26). He saw in the distant future, by the eye of faith, the outlines of a golden city that had foundations whose builder and maker is God.

His was a wonderful renunciation; a triumph of-faith. Perhaps he had to brush aside the entreaties of the one who had adopted him, and the mocking laughter of his old companions as he stepped from the palace to the brickyard. But he had a glorious ideal before him, that of taking his enslaved people with him to the promised land. "He supposed that his brethren would have understood how that God by His hand would deliver them, but they understood not," Acts 7: 25. It was an admirable ideal, and eventually he was to become the instrument in Godís hand to accomplish it. Now, however, he is young, strong, enthusiastic, with plenty of self-confidence. He feels capable of doing something noble and great, so when he sees an Israelite suffering at the hands of an Egyptian he becomes a champion for him, and having made sure that no one saw him he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

He had made a beginning; the ice was broken, and probably he planned on carrying on the work of deliverance; and so he hastens out again to his brethren, but everything turned out so utterly different from what he had expected. He gets a rebuff from one of his Hebrew brethren, "Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? Intendest thou to kill me as thou killest the Egyptian?"

His ideals are smashed as he flees over the burning desert sands. An occasional sob would shake his frame, or hate for the Egyptians fill his heart. Evidently all was lost and his people must remain in bondage.

Next we see him sitting by a well in the land of Midian. Seven shepherdesses were busy drawing water and filling the troughs to water their fatherís sheep when some rude shepherds came and drove them away in order to use the water those virgins had drawn. Mosesí interest was awakened. Shall he mix himself in this affair? It has nothing to do with him, and nothing to do with his suffering brethren in Egypt. But it was oppression, and he cannot be a callous spectator of oppression, ĎMoses stood up and helped them and watered their flock." What a tremendous difference this insignificant bit of work was from his great project of delivering Israel! But it was Godís way of preparing Moses, who had renounced Egypt by faith, for the gigantic task of leading Israel out of the house of bondage forty years later.

How instructive this incident! The Holy Spirit would have us see how hidden service in an unostentatious manner, in little things that God puts in our way, leads to greater things. The natural heart longs for praise. There may have been mixed with Mosesí desire to see his people liberated a good deal of self. Had he despised this humble service at the well we might never have heard about him in the Scriptures. Would that we might learn to be faithful in little things. Our Lord could then commit to us more important matters. Has He not said, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much" (Luke 16:10).

Possibly some young brother imagines that he ought to be on the platform, since he is a good speaker, but to sweep the floor is too humble a service for him. Moses had to begin in a very lowly way, drawing water for some strangers. Without knowing it he was being tested by an all-wise God. He stood the test and showed that he had a heart to help those in distress, and do menial work though so highly educated. Many imagine that they would do something great if they had the opportunity, but to dry the tears of some little child would be quite beneath their notice. Was not our Lordís first recorded miracle to provide wine at a simple wedding? Did He not rather come into the world to vindicate the holiness of God? To glorify the Father, and by His sacrificial death save sinners? Why should He stoop to supply some simple village people with wine? By doing this He manifested forth His glory, not merely His power to turn water into wine, but also His wonderful condescension and willingness to help at all times those who needed Him.

Moses commenced in this very humble way, and continued for forty years daily to tend sheep on the grassy slopes of Horeb. Was that humble service all in vain? Did he get peevish and fretful over this monotonous task? We believe not. God had him in His own training, preparing him for the important service of delivering Israel. God thinks more about the spiritual fitness of His servants than about the success of their service for Him in the eyes of others. His silver must be purified of dross and the wish to impress others must be mortified and the flesh brought into subjection. Let no one think that because he is not sent to do great things in Central Africa that there is nothing at home worth going in for. Or that because he is not invited to speak at large conferences that he has no message for any person. Elisha began by pouring water on the hands of Elijah (2 Kings 3:11). Humble service indeed, but the stepping stone to greater things for God and His people.

May we all, who are inclined to wish to shine before men, learn to do Godís humble service faithfully as unto the Lord even though it be drawing water for a few thirsty sheep. How much better to scrub the floor of the Gospel Hall than to take the platform in oneís own carnal energy! To hear His "Well done thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things."