#carmelprays – Acts 6:1-15
Opening Song: The Servant King
Read Scripture: Acts 6:1-15
By Acts 6, the early church had been expanding and flourishing rapidly, so much that the twelve apostles were stretched in their ability to meet the congregation’s needs. Four reflections on how the early church employed godly wisdom to deal with the challenges of unparalleled growth in Acts 6:1-7 are ventured below:
- The growth of the early church resulted in inward friction. A number of Hellenistic Jews (Greek-speaking Jewish Christians) that had responded to the gospel were unhappy with the extent of support given to their widows by the church in the daily distribution of food. This stands in contrast to the support given to their Hebraic (Aramaic-speaking) counterparts (v1). If this had been allowed to fester, the early church could have risked divisiveness, and its witness to Christ and growth compromised.
- In addressing these frictions, the apostles did not allow the ministry of God’s Word to be deprioritised. While it was important for the church to minister to the needy, the apostles understood that their central calling to the ministry of God’s Word should not be neglected as a result of doing so (v2). Their solution allowed the church to pursue both concerns in tandem, by delegating responsibilities to seven leaders to assist them in overseeing the congregation’s practical needs. (This includes Stephen who is featured more heavily in the following chapter.) This freed the apostles up to give their attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word (v4), which fueled the church’s growth. It is thus useful to reflect on our church’s key priorities at this juncture. Is the church placing sufficient focus on the ministry of God’s Word and prayer, or are these priorities eclipsed by other distractions? Is the church placing unnecessary burdens on our preachers whose primary task is to preach and teach? Consider also how we could step up to serve the church body today.
- The early church selected leaders for their spiritual maturity. Two things to note regarding the criterion laid out by the apostles for the selection of leaders: (a) The leaders were chosen not for their intellect, popularity and charm, but for their reputation of being full of the Holy Spirit, wisdom and faith (v3, 5). These traits entail both spiritual maturity and godly discernment that make these men worthy of the tasks assigned to them. (b) The leaders were affirmed and approved by the larger church body (v3-5). The call to leadership in the church often goes beyond an inward desire to serve. God also provides confirmation of our suitability for a task externally, through those around us.
- The application of godly wisdom contributed to the continued spread of God’s Word. The pleasure of the church body in response to the selection of leaders (v5), and the continued spread of the gospel and growth of the church (v7) affirm the early church’s wisdom and sensitivity in dealing with these challenges. How can Carmel similarly learn from the early church in applying godly wisdom?
Pray in Response
Dear Jesus, You are truly the Servant King. When You called me to follow You, You also asked me to deny myself and take up my cross daily. Father, a life is impacted simply because someone was willing to do so, to go the extra mile to demonstrate Your great love, to be an example of reaching and touching others with Your Word and deed. Grant O Lord, that I will rise up to serve You daily. Remind me to use all that You have given me to build Your church, to pray for my pastors and those who serve You behind the scenes too. May I know the reason for my faith that I may be able to point others to Jesus. Fill me O God with Your Holy Spirit I pray. Grant me a heart full of faith and wisdom to serve You at home, in school, at work, in church and wherever You lead me in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!
Response Song: For I’m Building a People of Power
By Anonymous Carmelite