Good morning and welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. My name is Alan and I will be leading you through the week.
Today’s passage is Acts 6:1-7. It’s the one where the widows are complaining about the daily distribution of food. Verse 3 and 4 say,
“Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
Yesterday we talked about the fact that God hasn’t set us apart to make our lives a little bit better. He has set us apart to shine like stars, to reclaim lives that have been lost to darkness and destruction and to demonstrate a better way to live. Today we consider responsibility: in God’s kingdom there is a job to do and responsibility to bear.
When my kids were little, they were big into books. They would run to the book shelf, pull out a favourite book and sit me down to read to them. There was one particular board book that was a favourite, “Which shoes would you choose?” In the book we were introduced to various animals who were looking to perform a particular task: football, roller skating, ballet… that kind of thing and at the back of the book there was a little pull-out ‘drawer’ that contained lots of different footwear. The idea was to match the right shoes to the right task – or accidentally make hilarious mistakes!!
You see, different shoes are made for different purposes. I wouldn’t wear slippers to play football in… I don’t know about you!?
It is the same for you and me. We have been designed for a particular purpose. Some people are awesome at caring for people, seeing old wounds healed and setting people free, others are great at working with kids, still others are fab at making people feel welcome and at ease… or cooking, or inspiring or swimming or football or… administration! It was a shock to me to discover that some people actually like administration. It makes them happy to administrate. Go figure!? They get a buzz out of it. Wow. Discovering our gifts, helping others to discover their gifts and matching gifting to the task in front of us is a real skill, but when it happens, when we get the chemistry right, the cogs in heaven start to turn, the kingdom breaks out… and what’s more, rather than people feeling burdened and stressed, they come alive. When our gifting matches the job that needs to be done, we come alive; serving becomes a joy rather than a burden.
The apostles were getting bogged down sorting out disputes among two factions of widows. Some were getting overlooked for the food distribution and were starting to kick up a fuss. The apostles knew they were being distracted. Their time was increasingly being diverted away from preaching and teaching to get involved in sorting out the mess.
Now this isn’t to say that organizing the community and the distribution of food wasn’t important or was beneath the apostles… that it was somehow a lesser job and not worthy of their time… it was simply that to keep pressing into the task God had given them, they needed someone else to step up to the plate and take responsibility. If they were expected to do it all then the early community of believers wouldn’t have grown very much further.
Instead they ask the community to find 7 people full of the Spirit and wisdom… find your best people and put them to the task. These are no second rate men tasked with trivial matters. These are God’s children, full of the Spirit, full of his wisdom, who took on the responsibility of food distribution.
Jesus told a parable, the parable of the 10 minas in Luke 19, which concludes with this line, ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
Some of us want positions of importance or status, some of us want to be noticed. Some of us think that serving is beneath us, or we are too busy and get frustrated that we are overlooked for the seemingly more important roles.
God asks us to serve… to go the extra mile… to put ourselves out for others… grace we have received… give. And then God asks us to be faithful with whatever responsibility comes our way.
Do we offer to help at cell group? Do we offer to do a welcome or to lead the discussion? Do we put ourselves forward to serve at church: at food bank, on the balcony, to serve refreshments or commit to the kids team, youth, Eden? Or are we too busy, or think that someone else will do it… it’s not my responsibility?
The call on every one of our lives is to serve others, not for personal gain but simply for the sake of serving, following Jesus’ example in all we do.
Father, thank you for Jesus. Thank you that he laid down his life so that we might live… that we might pick up our cross every day and follow his example. Show us today where we can serve others, help us to do this willingly, without needing to be noticed or rewarded. Amen.
READING: Acts 6:1-7
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’
This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.