Real Talk with Roderick
Concentration and Focus (Acts 6:1-7)
Focus on the Main Thing (Acts 6:1-4)
1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Caring for the poor is found throughout the Scriptures (Exodus 23:11; Leviticus 23:22; Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Esther 9:22; Psalm 14:6, 41:1; Proverbs 14:21; Matthew 11:5, 19:21; Romans 15:26; Galatians 2:10; Luke 14:13, 21). It is one way that people in the community of faith show honor toward God (Proverbs 19:17). The poor are made in the image of God; showing kindness to the poor is a way of showing respect for His image while also providing compassion where it is needed. Within the group of society regarded as poor there is a subsection that is especially dear to God's heart: widows and orphans (Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 10:18, 14:19; Psalm 68:5; Proverbs 15:25). The early church is mindful of the needs of its poor. Widows were particularly vulnerable to poverty and were looked after in special ways.
The care of the widows is good. But when the care is not done carefully it can cause hard feelings, discontent, and even division. Although the number of disciples was multiplying not everyone was feeling good about how their fellowship was treating the poor - especially the widows. A particular problem had gotten so bad that it was brought to the attention of the apostles as a complaint: "Sorry to bother you guys with this but the Hellenists are upset because their widows are neglected by the Hebrews in the daily distribution. That is, when the food pantry or clothing is given out the Greek-speaking widows typically get less or are left out altogether." But who are the Hebrews and who are the Hellenists?
The main distinction between the two groups was probably linguistic: the Hellenists were Jews whose habitual language was Greek and who attended Greek-speaking synagogues; the Hebrews spoke Aramaic (or Mishnaic Hebrew) and attended synagogues where the service was conducted in Hebrew.
Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts (p. 120). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
(Acts 6:2) Some will see in the solution of the apostles a condescending attitude toward others in the congregation. Some will read this passage and get the impression that the apostles believe themselves to be above serving. However, they have been trained to serve (Matthew 20:28; John 13:1-17), charged to serve (Luke 22:26; John 21:17; 1 Peter 5:3), changed in order to serve effectively (John 14:26; 15:26). In seeking to understand the response of the apostles we must prayerfully consider their calling. The apostles were to have a special foundation-laying ministry of preaching, teaching, and penning the word. (Mark 3:14; Matthew 10:14; John 15:20; John 14:23-26; John 21:17).
It is with their calling in mind that they must say no to the request for their personal oversight of the distribution to the poor. They say no in order that they would concentrate in the area of their calling. For the apostles to personally prevent the problem that has been presented they would have had to take an enormous amount of time away from prayer and the ministry of the word. That would not be desirable.
Excellence is never an accident. In order to effectively bring forth fruit you must focus. And there will be no casual completion of the great calling that is on your life. You must concentrate (1 Timothy 4:15).
What can I do to become more fruitful? Three things:
Story - Will you continue serving with this ministry? Will you be our media guy? Will you go over to this church to help? Will you be at this church to lead a men's ministry?
Watch God Work (Acts 6:5-7)
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. 7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
There are times when the work of God is hindered by my unwillingness to let things go. But there are people around me willing and waiting to use the gifts that are in them. Such was the case with Stephen. He was ready! Full of faith and the Holy Spirit he was an untapped resource for the kingdom of God. By delegating some duties the apostles released into the kingdom the help of a man that was prepared by God to get it done.
Questions for Study