Thursday, October 17

Lessons from the first problem

Scripture: Job 1-2, Acts 6-7

Observation/application

In Acts 6, the young church confronts its first problem: a dispute between Hellenistic (Greek speaking) and Hebrew (speaking) believers.  The former believed that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  The apostles appointed seven qualified men who all appear to be Hellentistic to administrate the food program and make sure everyone is treated fairly.  There are several lessons here for us.

First, the young church was engaged in both evangelism/disciple-making and social compassion/relief.  The apostles recognized their need to stick to their assignment of prayer and preaching the message, but also recognized the need to provide leadership for the work of feeding the widows.  Reject the false dichotomy between gospel proclamation and gospel demonstration, between spiritual work and social work.  The early church embraced both; so should we.  Both are gospel work. 

Second, there was a clear sense of assignment and calling.  The apostles knew what their assignment was and that they shouldn’t be diverted from it.  They found others who could assume the important role of running the feeding program, so they could stay focused on their unique role.  They did this without diminishing the importance of either role.  In fact, their approach underlined the importance of both.  Know what God has called you to do, and stay in your lane!

Third, there were high standards for those who were selected to run the feeding program (an administrative task): they were to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.  Wisdom is essential for good administration.  But they wanted more—they wanted people who were filled with the Holy Spirit!  We should expect our leaders to have the gifts needed for the execution of their assignment, and be filled with the Holy Spirit!  Two of these administrators (Stephen and Philip) went on to preach and have a profound spiritual impact far beyond their administrative duties! Anyone who is filled with the Holy Spirit may have an impact far beyond their own gifts and assignment!

Prayer: Lord, help us be deeply engaged in gospel work, both spiritual and social.  Help us to know our gifts and calling, and stay focused.  And fill us with Holy Spirit—all of us—so that Your work will be done by people who are led and empowered by You!