Acts 6:1-7, How To Overcome Problems In A Church Community
1. Care About Complaints In The Community (v1-2)
2. Collaborate To Solve Community Problems (v2-6)
3. Cultivate Qualities To Serve The Community (v3)
4. Concentrate On God’s Calling For You (v2-6)
Acts 6:1-7, How To Overcome Problems In A Church Community
Acts 6:1-7, How To Overcome Problems In A Church Community
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I want to start out as we look at acts Chapter 6 this evening by considering with you a Proverb, Proverbs, chapter 14, verse 4. Says where no oxen are the through is clean. But much increase comes by the strength. Of an ox. This is one of those Proverbs that is a little bit fun to think about. Might put a smile on your face. The basic idea here is if your objective is clean troughs then don't have any oxen. Don't don't bring any animals in because they're going to mess it up. It's going to get dirty. Water is going to get in there. Dirt is going to get in there. Going to get. Muddy there, there's going to always be. Something to do some work to accomplish, some things to clean up. If you bring the oxygens in. And so if you want to clean through. Don't have an oxen. However much increase comes by the strength of an ox. You bring an ox in and now you have an ox that can help you to plow your field. You're going to be much more effective as you're seeking a harvest and planting and harvesting things, and so there's much increase that comes. By the strength of an ox. But that increase comes with the extra work of cleaning up and feeding and providing water and taking care of the oxen. And so there is a balance to be found here of having oxen. To benefit from all the strengths that they provide and also the cleaning up and resolving things that need to be resolved that come along with that. And so if your objective is a clean through, don't bring in oxen. But if your objective is growth and productivity, and you want to benefit from the strength of an oxen. I understand that that comes with some things that will get messy and some things that will need to be cleaned up, and I think that's an appropriate Proverb to consider and to meditate on as we think about acts chapter. Six this evening. Because of course, what we find here is a complaint that springs up within the church and there is a problem that arises, a problem that needs to be addressed and dealt with, and if it's not dealt with, it's going to be a very serious problem for the gathering of believers. There in Jerusalem, this is still very early on in the life of the church. Jesus has ascended to the father, and the disciples have been preaching and people have been getting. Believed, but not much time has passed, and so the church is growing. But now here we get to see a little bit of kind of the first problem. Internally, we've seen some persecution in the first couple chapters there some external problems, but now there's a problem within the believers within the Christians. That are there, and if it's not dealt with, it really could do great damage in the midst of the church there in Jerusalem. And so I've titled the message this evening. How to overcome problems in a church community and we can look at this as an example really as a model to follow for how to deal with problems inside of a church inside of a church community. And that is a reality to face just like. The through gets dirty and messy and there's things to address whenever you have oxen present in a similar way, whenever we gather together, even though we are born again, even though we love the Lord, even though you know we are seeking to walk with the Lord. As we gather together as believers. There is going to be. Problems and so some people say, you know, there's so many problems and it's challenging to deal with. And so I'm just going to walk away from church. I'm not going to try to do church. I'm not going to try to have community in that way because it's just too messy. But but there's much strength that comes with the oxen. Right. And so yes, we acknowledge, you know there's problems as we gather together and we rub each other the wrong way and we make mistakes and we sin against one another and and and there is those issues and problems that arise but. There is so much value that is provided to us by engaging in and being part of a church community that it's, you know, not a good idea to just neglected and walk away as the author of Hebrews says, to not neglect the gathering together of the Saints, because we we need one another. And so that's something that we need to understand. We need one another. We need to gather together. We need to establish our church community, but also recognizing that will come with problems. And in some ways you can understand the more people there are, the more problems that we will face and more things to clean up and things that will need to be addressed. And in addressing these things, I really encourage you to think about that word community, because sometimes we get the wrong picture in our heads of church. And we think of it as much more like a theater. But church is really about the body of Christ or another way to say that is community. Check out this definition of community that means a unified body of individual. This is almost directly quoting from the apostle Paul right in First Corinthians Chapter 12 that this is what the body of Christ is. It's many members, but one body that is unified, brought together under the headship of Jesus Christ, and so community just you know, looking at dictionary definitions, it speaks of that. Unified body that different pieces coming together to form one group, one community, one gathering. It's people who share common interest. This what are you interested in? I'm interested in Jesus. I'm interested in the word of God. I'm interested in worship. I'm interested in growing and developing. I'm interested in reaching the loss I'm interested in and so. So we gather together because we have these common interests in the Lord. It's a body of persons having a common history. What's your history? Well, you know, here's how God got ahold of my life. And here's as we look at the book of Acts as a model for the church, here's where we see our history. This is how we began. And this is where. You know our practices and our walk with the Lord and our gatherings together comes from we have this common history, this common interests, that involve not just our hobbies or, you know, personal convictions, but but where we come from and what we value. It's a group linked by common policy. Is another aspect of this definition. We look at the one another versus throughout the New Testament. These are the instructions and the commands that we are given in order to understand how we are to relate to one another. And so we join together as the church in a church community, and we're linked by common policy, and we agree I'm going to interact with you and relate to you. According to what the word of God says, and I'm going to exercise my gifts and you're going to exercise your gifts and. I'm going to give and. You're gonna receive, and you're gonna give, and I'm gonna receive that. We're gonna love one another as Christ loved us. That that there is this common policy, this agreement, together to be united together and and really that is a good picture, a good explanation of what the church is. It's not a building, it's not a theater, it's not. An entertainment center. It is a community where we unite together as individuals, but joining together as one under the headship of Christ, and as we do that as we seek to do that as we work and develop that. There's going to be problems, but they will all be overcome able if we will follow the model that we are given. Now I'm not sharing these things, of course, as one who always gets it right, or one who always handles all of the problems that happen in a community correctly, but sharing it as this is a great case study. Here we have in acts Chapter 6 the initial church with the original 12 apostles, and we get to see how they handle and approach a problem that arises within the community. And so we're going to walk through four points this evening, four points to help us. Consider problems that we face as a church community and how we can address those things. So point number one, care about complaints in the community. We need to start with. Of course, our love for one another and actually care about the complaints. That are taking place in the community. Let's look at verse one and two. It says 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. Then the 12 summoned the multitude of the disciples and said it is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. So here we're introduced to this scene. And and I would encourage you to try to think this through. Try to imagine it. How do you imagine this happening? How does this scene play out for you? What's going on here in Jerusalem? Well, we understand here. There is a daily distribution for the widows and that was because very. Easy to understand. There was a cultural need that was really very relevant to them in that time. Widows did not have much opportunity to provide for themselves. And so when a husband died in that society, in that culture, there was not a lot of job opportunities for a. Older woman to. Be able to work and provide for herself and so if the husband dies and there's nothing left or not much left behind, then she has very little to live off of and hardly any opportunity to provide for herself to do any kind of work or obtain the the the things that she needs. For life. And so it was part of their culture to care for the widows of their community and of course the immediate family would be primarily responsible for that. But beyond that, the community as a whole would. Take responsibility and help provide for giving alms and those kinds of things to provide for the widows. Now, as the church began, the church being kind of a distinct community there amongst the Jewish culture, they were many times rejected from the rest of their family. They were rejected from, cast, out from. The rest of society around them because of their faith in Christ. And so there was a need then, especially for the church to care for the Christian widows, because the regular Jewish society, even though they valued that and were normally involved in that, there was much less opportunity for them to be. Provided for in that way because of their. Faith in Christ. Now it seems that there was. A lot of widows. In that time and. Many different historians have tried to kind of come up with ideas for why that is, but the general consensus seems to be that many Jews would be of course dispersed all throughout the Roman Empire during this time. But but they would all want to be buried around Jerusalem. They would always want to come back to Jerusalem, especially in their elder older years for retirement and those kinds of things. And so there was kind of a migration back by the older generation to Jerusalem and so you could understand then. As the older generation is moving back. Some of the generation is dying off that the husbands were leaving behind widows who would then now be in the region and need to be taken care of. And of course, during this time many of those widows have believed in Jesus Christ and become part of the church, and so there's a need for. Provision is that church is stepping up to provide for this need that is there in their midst. And we saw in the previous chapters how people were selling properties and giving it to the church, and the Lord was providing for these widows through the other believers who were contributing and participating in that way to take care of them and to make sure that their. Needs were met. But in this distribution. Notice it's a daily distribution here in verse one, so there's this every day coming and going. Every day. The widows are coming in and getting a a little bit of food perhaps or a little bit of money that is given out. And so it's distributed on a day by day basis. And as that's happening. There is now a complaint that begins to arise because. Well, one group is saying the other group. Is being. Favored or preferred? Over them. And so the two groups are the Hebrews and the Hellenists so. Try to get the picture we're talking about the church. Inside the church. Really is all Jewish people at this point the Gentiles enter in in acts chapter 10. We'll get to there. But but this is all Jewish people, but amongst the Jews there was two kinds of Jewish people at that time. There were those who would be called the Hebrews, and then those who would be called the hellenists. And the difference between them was kind of their. Culture and where they grew up, the Hebrews were Jews who were raised within the land of Israel. Their primary language was Aramaic. They studied the Hebrew scriptures and they held to the Hebrew scriptures, and so they were under the term under the label Hebrews. The Hellenists were also Jews, but they were raised in different parts of the world. Again, there were the Jewish people scattered all over the Roman Empire during this time, and so they were heavily influenced by the Greek culture. Now don't think of that an idea of like Greek philosophy or Greek religion, but they spoke. Great primary. And so there's a language divide between these two groups, and what their first language is. One had a first language of Greek and the other had a first language of Aramaic or Hebrew. And so there was that kind of cultural clashes that were happening, those who were raised in other regions, they dressed differently because. They'd grown up all their lives, you know, dressing a certain way, like the society around them. But the Hebrews back in Israel, they dressed a different way and spoke Aramaic. And so there's this difference of. Cultures that is clashing amongst the Jewish culture, this was apart from and even before anything to do with the church. But now, even in the church, there's people from both groups that have now become believers in Jesus. And so they're working to. Be a community alongside of each other, but there's some pretty strong differences between them. They think about things differently. They see things differently. They talk. Differently, they study the scriptures slightly differently. They had different versions, 1 primarily focused on the Hebrew Scriptures, 1 studied the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, and so they had different versions of the Bible and and so there was this tension between them that existed before Christ that wasn't just immediately. Vanished after they became believers in Jesus. This division existed in Jewish culture and there was animosity, bias, prejudice, suspicion, always between these two groups. Pastor David Guzik puts it this way. Hebrews tended to regard hellenists as unspiritual compromisers with Greek culture and Hellenist regarded Hebrews as holier than thou traditionalists. And so there was these different camps. They had these different perspectives. And and there were these things that they had grown up. With all their lives. They would see someone dressed in the Hebrew form. They would see someone dressed in the Greek fashion and immediately there would be thoughts and emotions and feelings and conclusions and judgments about that person. They would hear them speak. Oh, they're trying to speak Hebrew. They're trying to speak Arabic, but I could tell Greek is their first language. And then all of these stereotypes and everything that you know would be thought about them would come to mind and be applied to that person. You could easily understand you know the things, many things that we face in our culture are not new to our general. But these kinds of things. The church in acts chapter six was facing. And so there was this tension between these two groups that existed long before this whole widow issue. But this widow issue now kind of pulls it out and exaggerates what is going on here. There is a complaint that arises now because amongst these two groups, one is looking at the other and saying they're getting better provisions than we are and we're being neglected in the distribution and the care for the widows. There's lots of comments that people can make on this passage. I find it a little bit unfortunate that a lot of the comments that I've read or heard on this passage. Kind of generally tend to lean towards this idea. You know, there was probably not a real issue here. It probably just seemed that way. It just seemed like there was some kind of neglect going on, but probably it wasn't. It wasn't a real issue. That was. Happening I I think. That's a little bit unfortunate to. That lean all the way so far. That way it is possible there's a few possibilities as you look at the situation, it could have been. Imagined neglect that there was no real neglect going on, but but it just felt that way because again, there was these cultural tensions. There was, you know, it just felt like we were always looked down upon. So we feel neglected automatically, even if everything is happening exactly fairly like that, that definitely could have happened. But it's also a real possibility that there could have been actual neglect that was happening accidentally. Not maliciously, not trying to slight the other group but but just on accident. Not intentional. It might have still been some prejudice or bias or something like that, but but not malicious in its nature. It just was. It didn't mean to happen. But also I would encourage you to consider it also. Could have been. Actual neglect. It could be a real and valid complaint. Well, not in the church. Well, let's go back to. When there's no oxygen, the through is clean, right? We are real people gathered together in Christ, born again, redeemed and forgiven, but not perfect. And I think it's realistic to understand. Yes, it could have been imagined neglect. It could have been accidental neglect, or it could have been biased, prejudice, real neglect. That is a real. Possibility again, how do you imagine this happening? How are you picturing the scene? What we find here is there is a daily distribution that is happening. It's going on. How did this start? We don't have the details. When did this start? Who started it? We don't have the details. We have some details in the previous chapters of, you know, these gifts being given and laid at the apostles feet. And so there was resources that the church had. Who decided we need to start giving it to the widows who decided how much the widows get? Who decided any of this? I I would guess I'm just taking a guess. It's not written here, so you know we can't say this definitively, but I would guess it just kind of started by people bumbling around and trying to figure out their way and how to do stuff. It just started. People just started doing stuff. There wasn't a master plan worked out that started out that OK you know what we should do? We should start accepting donations to care for the widows. And then when we get those donations, here's how we're going to store those funds and store those resources. And here's how we're going to involve this group to be able to like cook the muffins every day that we'll be able to give out. And then we'll work all this together and it'll just be this, like, perfect system of delivering the things that are needed to the people who need it. It's going to be. No, no, that's not what happened. There was resources, and there was a need and people started trying to figure out, OK, how can we connect these two things and? Realistically, like maybe it was just one person or a couple of people. If you look later on, there's seven people that are set to resolve this right and so. I I could easily imagine and understand. Hey, there's a one person who's just like I'm gonna do this. I'm gonna help these widows. Peter, do you mind if I you know, how much can I use if Peter says OK? You know that that's a real need. Let's go ahead, use some resources to take care of the widows. That's important. And so there's donations of money coming in. There's maybe food to go buy in the marketplace. To bring it back, there's money to give out. Maybe it's day by day, a small portion that is given financially. Maybe it's one person doing the best they can and they just can't hold it all together well enough to make sure everybody gets a fair share. Or maybe there was one biased person. Maybe there was two or three people doing the work, but one of them really did have a problem with those Hellenist Jews and. I'm not going to give them as much. They're not going to use the money very wisely. And so I'm going to give them less and I'll give more to the Hebrews because I know they'll be more diligent and better stewards with the resources we give them. And so maybe one person was operating that way. It also could have been something as simple as geography. This idea of serving tables doesn't necessarily picture a cafeteria. Tables were where you would sit to do business, so the table might have been, hey, come sit down, OK? Oh yes, I see. Yes, you're a widow. I hear your story. OK, here is your portion. May the Lord bless you. Have a great day. And so it just was the place to have the transaction have the interaction take place. So it could have been geography where, OK, come on in. Hey, our hours for daily distribution are from 9 to 12. And if you have a hard time getting here during that time frame, I'm sorry. You know, that was the time that we set up for the the, the distribution and the hellenists often would live in. Regions close together, so there was, you know, little. In Greece, inside of Jerusalem that you know the Greek culture, people would kind of gathered together there and and live there and often, you know, they would be the the poorer neighborhoods, the neighborhoods that were not necessarily nearby or far. And so it could. Have just been geography. It took them. Longer they get. To the area to get to the tables to be able to have. Their provision of money. So many possibilities, right? So many things are happening here. But it's a real issue. And I suggest that we can tell. That it's a real issue. It's not just imagined neglect. It's not just a tense, you know. Imagination of slight that is going on because it says in verse 2. Then the 12 summoned the multitude. I would suggest the 12, the 12 apostles here summon the multitude because there really is something that needs to be addressed here. It's not just. Peter going to the windows and saying. I've checked it out. Seriously, I know you feel that way. I'm really sorry you feel that way, that you're being neglected, but it's really not. It's not happening. No, no, they're. They heard the complaint. They heard the news and they said, wow, we need to gather the multitude. We need to address the situation. There's a there's a real issue here. It's not just imagine. It's not just politics. We need to address this neglect that is happening, whether it's on purpose, whether it's accidental, whatever reason it is we need to do a better job. For the people that God has gathered here. And I think that the apostles model something good for us. Here they they care. About the complaints that are happening. In the community. They value the people. Of their fellowship. And this is something that we don't always see in our society and in our culture. We don't always see a lot of value in one another. And it's very easy many times to dismiss each other's complaints. Like that's dumb. Like, why are you worried? Why are you crying about that? That's a dumb thing to cry about. Just no, you just, you know, just move on, grow up, put on your big boy pants, you know, or man up or, you know, all those things that we say to one another and and we are sometimes callous. In listening to receiving and hearing, having compassion for the complaints, the others are around us having are having and and sometimes there is those cultural clashes that happen sometimes that there's other types of situations. But the lesson that I see here is the care that is shown. As this issue arises, it's a complaint. Now the word complaint. It could also be translated murmurings, so it wasn't like some loud huge complaint, but it was. You know, we're starting to notice some rumblings. There's there's a little bit of unsettled feelings about this, and so the 12 apostles realize we need to and it's them taking action. The 12 summoned the multitude, right? We need to address this. We need to make sure that the flock is being taken care of and that this situation is resolved. Paul tells us in Galatians chapter 5. All the law is fulfilled in one word. Even in this you shall love your neighbor as yourself. This is one of the principles by which we gather together. Paul talks about all the the joints and different members of the body working together and and that what holds us together is the love. That's the love that binds the different pieces of the. The body and keeps us in place and allows us to flex and not break and allows us to to work together and to move around each other and be able to have that. So you shall love your neighbor as yourself. This fulfills the whole law, but he tells the Galatia. Means if you bite and devour one another, beware, lest you be consumed by one another. You don't need to tell church people that binding and devour church people would never bite and devour one another. No, that's actually not true. Paul is writing this because there was biting and devouring going on. And so there needed to be this reset to this recognition. The call the Commission is to love one another. To love your neighbor as yourself, and we need to learn to find ways to work together, to listen to one another, to care about the complaints. That different groups around us have in the Community where God has plugged us in, we are the body of Christ and members of one another. Paul puts it this way in First Corinthians chapter 12. If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, or if one member is honored, all the Members rejoice. With it that there is to be this community, this communion, this fellowship. Around what each of us is experiencing and going through, and that doesn't mean that we get to solve everybody else's problems or we are expecting everybody else to solve our problems. But but that we're walking together through those problems. We're walking together through those victories and it's. Part of the community that God has called us to be as the body of. To listen to, have compassion, to be willing to hear, even from things that are hard for us to hear things for us that are hard for us to see, situations that we don't quite understand. But to value the one another to value others and what they're experiencing and to hear to care about the complaints. That are coming. Well, moving on to point #2 is we continue to consider how to overcome. Problems in a church community point #2. Collaborate to solve community problem. The first thing we have to do is listen. We have to care. We have to have compassion, we have to. Love one another. But it's not just that now we got to start. We have to start to move forward and to take action to do something about that care that we have that love that we have, that we don't just love in Word, but we love indeed. And in truth, and so. Collaborate to solve community problems. I'm going to read verses 2 through 5 again, it says. Then the 12 summoned the multitude of the disciples and said it is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom. Who we whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to. The Ministry of the word. And the saying please the whole multitude and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and. The Holy Spirit. And Philip, Prochorus Nicanor, Timon Parmas, and Nicolas a proselyte from Antioch, and then verse six, whom they sat before the apostles, and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. Here we get to see some collaboration take place. The complaint is heard. It's a real complaint. And so the 12 apostles say we need to take action. Here's what we're going to do. We're going to summon the multitude of the disciples. Again, how do you imagine this happening? Personally, I look at this and I imagine before they summon the multitude, the 12 had a meeting before they called the big meeting. They had a meeting and said what do we do about this? I'm hearing rumors and James says, yeah, I was hearing those two. I was. I was talking to this widow and she was saying this and. I thought you said, oh, yeah, I I definitely know this cause my, you know, sister's cousins brother-in-law's mom, she's a widow. And you know, she experienced that. And so, so they're talking there. OK. So definitely there's something going. OK, so. We need to. Summon the multitude of the disciples. As they summon the multitude of the disciples. It reads very nice and smoothly here, right? They gather them together. The the Apostles say one thing. So here's the answer. Do that and so the people said, OK, great. Sounds good. We'll do that. And then they did that and then the whole matter was concluded. We wrap it up in 6 verses, nice and clean. No problems. Right. Well, if you've been around. Christians for long enough. I think it's not hard to understand. This is a summary of the events that transpired. There was a meeting before the meeting. Then the big meeting happened. There was some back and forth. There wasn't immediate answer. We went into it with the solution, but there was some conversations. First, there was the airing of grievances that had to kind of come out and there was, you know, the the different things that were going on. Then the Holy Spirit led the suggestion about the seven being appointed. And so, you know, the Lord brought them into unity and agreement and but it. But it wasn't like, OK, everybody's. Quiet, one Apostle says one thing everybody says. And then now it's all resolved, right? Like that's just not how community works. There was some back and forth, there was different ideas. There was different opinions. Different ways of handling it, different discussions that were going on. The way it's presented here, the apostles enter this meeting to say. We know what the answer is, not. The answer is not for. The 12 of us. To do this. So who should do it? I think this is a interesting thing to consider that. A community, a church sometimes looks to. The 12. Looks to the stage, looks to you know those official roles and positions and says there's a problem. You should do it and sometimes those in those positions say you're right, we should do it. And those official positions end up doing everything. But the 12 said no. Actually, that's not what's best for us. Who's got another idea? What's another way for us to approach this? The the leadership here doesn't decide immediately by themselves all alone. They summon the multitude of the disciples. They're gathering the believers and saying, hey, community, we're all involved in this. We all have a part to play in this. We we're all invested in what the outcome of this situation. Is, So what do we want to do? How do we want to handle this? And so the leaders are involved because of course that's another downside. And sometimes that happens right where the leaders say, I don't want nothing to do with that. You guys figure that out and let me know what you decide when I'm when you're done. Like, that's not what happens. They're they're involved. They're initiating the conversation. But, but it's also the people who are involved. And verse three it. Says therefore, brethren seek out from among you seven men. Throwing it back to the congregation, you guys do some work on your part. Seek out from among you. And so there is to be this. You guys look around at each other. Start talking to each other. Start working out praying for each other, praying over each other, and thinking about who among us would be good. To help resolve this need that is there to resolve this situation that has unfolded. And verse 5. It says the saying please the whole multitude and they chose. So they chose not the 12 but. The multitude of disciples chose. And so there was this involvement from the people they engaged were part of the process of selecting the people that needed to fill the role. They're doing the searching, they're doing the praying, they're doing the conversating. They're doing some selection. Now it's not completely turned over to the people, because then at the end in verse six it says then they set before the apostles and when they the apostles had prayed that they laid hands on them. So now the 12 the leaders are now confirming the selection that the congregation has made. And so there's this. There's this back and forth. It's not just, you know, one clean thing. The anointed person speaks. That's the answer. He gets it right the first time. Every time. And the the very first thing he says the very first solution he offers is the right one. And so that's what we're going to do. No, it's it's suggestions, it's conversations, it's discussion, it's prayer. It's collaborating. Between the people who are involved in the problem, the people who are being hurt, the people who are not understanding that there is a problem to start with, the leaders are involved and people who had no clue that anything was going on, they're all involved, invested in this, working together, talking together. To find the right way to handle the situation and to address the need at hand. This is a pattern that we can follow in acts chapter 15. We see a similar pattern when it comes to a huge debate about whether or not Gentiles had to become circumcised in order to become Christian. And so acts chapter 15, we'll get to their shortly and we'll get to see that interaction. But there's this back and forth, there's these different opinions, different sides being shared, a lot of different people are speaking. And then the leader speaks on behalf of the leadership of the church. Names and comes to the conclusion and delivers the judgment or the answer at the end of the collaboration, and so collaboration is important, that it's not just one group's responsibility. It's not just the leaders responsibility. It's not just the people's responsibility. There is an effort on all sides. To work through something to talk through something and to find the solution that the Lord wants to lead us into. Now what's interesting about this is you look at verse 5 and the names. I won't read them again because I've already probably butchered them enough that they'll be upset with me when I enter into eternity. They're going to kind of smack. Me around a little bit but. But these seven names that they highlight here in verse 5. It's often been noted these are all Greek names which might suggest that they come from the Hellenist background. So the people who felt neglected it might be that these were primarily from that culture and especially the last guy Nicholas. That one I can pronounce no problem. He was a proselyte. From Antioch, which means he was a Gentile who converted to Judaism and then became a believer in Jesus, and so he was, you know, definitely in that Helenus camp that helenos category. And so it was people who are invested in the problem. It was their own people. People probably for the majority of these men who are involved in this situation, they're invested because it's their community, their sub community of the whole church that that it's their group that is being neglected and or feeling the the bulk of the problem that is at hand. And so it's the right people. Have the job. Who understand what it's like to be in those shoes and understand how it feels. And so they're going to make sure that those widows are cared for. It's something that. Needs to take place within the church. Collaboration to solve problems you know sometimes. There'll be a conversation that goes something like, you know, Jerry, your church is unwelcoming. No one greeted me. I came in and just really wasn't pleasant experience. It was unwelcoming. And I might say something like I'm. Very sorry about that. You know, it would be great. If you could start greeting people because you know what it's like to come in and not be greeted and and you know how bad that feels. You know the value of it. So why don't you help us make sure nobody else ever feels that way and be here to greet people as they come in? Many, many, many examples along that same kind of formula that same line of thought, you know, oh, this is pretty terrible. Jerry, why don't we do this like that would be great. Can you help us do that? And a lot of times, you know, suggestions are great, but also sometimes suggestions are, you know, I just spent 5 minutes thinking about. I'm sure you never thought about it, but here's something I just figured out in the last five minutes that you should. They start doing and walk away and you know, I'll see you in a long time later. And I'm not going to put any effort into helping resolve. The issue or the situation? Right. Community is about that collaboration. It's not. Let me tell you everybody, what you need to do, but let's talk together about how we can work out what needs to be done. And we work together. We talk together, we learn to listen to one another. We learn to love one another. And yes, we rub each other the wrong way and we have different opinions, but we work through those. In the love of Christ. To come to agreement. About things that can be quite challenging, quite, you know, this was kind of a powder keg that could have blown up. It was a delicate situation, but hey, we have the Holy Spirit, we have the love of God, we have the blood of Christ. So we can work through and talk through those things. I like what Pastor Warren Wisby says about this. He says church problems give us an opportunity to exercise our faith, not only faith in the Lord, but also faith in each other. The leaders suggested a solution and then all the members agreed with it. The assembly selected 7 qualified men and the apostles set them apart for ministry. They're exercising their faith in one another. They're learning to develop and grow and trust and rest in one another, and each part is fulfilling their role in this collaboration around this problem that has risen up now. Again, I'm not sharing this as one who always gets it right. I'm not trying to suggest. That's that, but here we have an acts chapter 6. A good case study to help us think through and talk through some of those things that sometimes pop up and will pop up are guaranteed to happen with inside a church community. It's not just the leaders responsibility. It's not just the people's responsibility. Let's work together. To grow through these challenges and things that we. Well, point #3, I'm going to camp out in verse 3 for this one. Cultivate qualities to serve the community as we think about overcoming problems that happen. There is a personal responsibility that we can also focus on and pay attention to that personally. Individually. There is a need for us to. Cultivate to nurture, to grow and develop qualities that enable us to serve one another in the community. And so here the apostles lay out the qualities of the kind of person who would be good fit for this need. That is there, verse three says. 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. Now as we look at this. They're looking for people who already have those qualities. They have a certain level of maturity already established, and so as you look at this in some ways, sometimes as we face situations, what what we're taking away from it is, well, I need to get ready for next time, like I may not have those qualities yet. I may have neglected some. Spiritual growth and some maturity. So I'm not quite ready. Always when a need arises within the church within the community. And that that happens. Within any community, any gathering of believers that that there are things that are needs, there are situations that unfold that could really benefit from someone who has these qualities. And there are people around who are capable of attaining those qualities but have not put in the effort or the diligence. To develop, to be prepared for that situation, that is. There you know the. Age-old saying God is not looking for your ability but your availability, right? But that doesn't mean hey, I'm available. I've done nothing to mature. I don't read my Bible. I don't know how to pray. I don't know how to operate in the Holy Spirit. I don't know anything about the Lord. I you know, I I've put no effort into my spiritual growth. But here I am. I'm available. That that is not what that means. That is not the kind of availability that God is looking for now. There's an appropriate time in our lives to have that kind of availability saying, hey, I'm brand new. I don't know anything. I just, you know, have begun to walk with the Lord, or I've been away for a long time and I've just come back. And I want to be available, but also just so you know, I'm starting from zero, so I'm available for those things, Lord. But there is a need for us to understand there's going to be more needs in the future that's going to happen again. Anytime you get people together, there's going to be problems. There's going to be needs, there's going to be opportunities. God's going to set open doors. In front of us. And the only way that we will be able to handle those. Is if the individuals within the community. Say you know what? I need to grow and develop. Maturity in my walk with the Lord. I need to. Move forward and be prepared so that next time. Next, open door. Next opportunity, I'll be better equipped and better prepared for the things that are at hand within the Community. Because you don't get a good reputation. From a week of, you know, trying to campaign and say I'd be a great fit for this role, that that's not how good reputations are, developed good reputations. Are developed overtime. As there's a consistency of discipline, consistency of, of discipleship, and worship and fellowship and and service unto the Lord, that that good reputation is. Not a short term thing, but a long term thing. Another quality they highlight is to be full of the Holy Spirit. That doesn't necessarily mean that they were just, you know, looking for people who are always walking around, speaking in tongues, really loudly all the time, right? Full of the Holy Spirit, they're looking for Galatians 5, the fruit of the spirit. They're looking for the the character and qualities of the Lord that the Holy Spirit produces. In a person's life. And so they've got a good reputation, not a flash in a pan, but but a history of being filled with. The Holy Spirit. Demonstrating the fruit of the spirit. And so they have wisdom. They're able to handle situations with tacts. They're able to address things and and be gentle and have compassion. These qualities are not all right. I'm going to do this tomorrow. I'm going to wake up tomorrow. I'm really going to work hard. I'm going to have a good reputation, you know, it's. So I'm going to seek. The Lord. I'm going to be consistent in my. Relationship with God. I'm going to cultivate these qualities. So that next time. Because in the future I want to be more instrumental in ministering to the community and resolving needs within the body of Christ, and stepping through open doors that God will set before us. You have a responsibility to everybody else in the Community to cultivate those qualities. To develop your spiritual life, you have a responsibility. I have a responsibility. We have a responsibility to each other. To pursue that personal devotional life with the Lord. To pursue that transformation of becoming more like Christ. Week in and week out. There's some implications here too, I think are noteworthy, he says. In verse three, seek out from among you. Not alright. You know, there's some specialists who kind of work in these situations, you know, negotiating these things and handling these kinds of disbursements and stuff. So let's hire in somebody from the outside. Let's bring in an expert, you know, who can handle this and deal with this? No, no. Seek out from among you.
And so there has to be. Someone among them. Cultivating qualities to serve the community means being part of the community. Not being outside of the community, but here I come as the expert coming in to save the day. No, no, that there is the established relationships. There is the among you aspect to this as well. And then there's also the. Availability in verse three, it says whom we we may appoint over this business. There's lots of people who might be capable of helping in this situation, but they're just not available. They don't have the time or the energy. They don't have the opportunity. They might be qualified, they might be capable, they might be very mature, but it's. They're not free to be dedicated. To this ministry and so. These are qualities. That we need to consider and cultivate. Being among the community being available having reserved. Times and opportunities to dedicate it to the things that God wants to do in the community and resolving situations. Now different types of opportunities in the body of Christ require different kinds of standards. You can refer to first Timothy Chapter 3 as Paul outlines the bishops qualities, and the deacons qualities, and the the things that must be met and measured for those various roles. So it's not only these things that are listed here, but it just depends on. What's at hand? If you feel like you know and you know that God is calling you to something in the future? That that, that's a good understanding to know that. OK, I need to get ready for that. God's calling me to lead worship. Then I need to prepare myself and get ready for that and cultivate the qualities that work towards those things that I can be effective in what God has set before me and called me to so. I want to encourage you individually cultivate qualities so that you will be equipped and available to serve the community. Get ready for next time. God is looking for your availability and that means between now and then you're working to develop, to grow, to be transformed. Think about what the apostle Paul shared with Timothy and First Timothy, Chapter 4. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in Word and conduct and love and spirit and faith and in purity till I come give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by the prophecy with the. Laying on of. Hands of the eldership meditate on these things. Give yourself entirely to them. That your progress may be evident to all Timothy, the young protege of. The apostle Paul. He's being raised up, being discipled, being developed to kind of step into Paul's shoes, right. He's there in Ephesus, and Paul writes in this letter saying, Timothy, you're not done cultivating the qualities that are necessary for the calling that you have. And so you need to have some deliberate. Focus and put some deliberate effort into being an example, and here are some specific areas. Work on being an example in these areas and notice, Paul says till I come. So there's this time frame that, hey, in the meantime, while while I'm gone here, here's what you need to be doing, make sure that you are reading the scriptures. Make sure that you're giving exhortation. Make sure that you're getting the doctrine right. This is not going to happen automatically. You haven't arrived and it's all just taken care of. This is some deliberate effort that you need to put in and and also Timothy, don't neglect the gift and so exercise your spiritual gifts. Exercise, Timothy. This isn't going to happen automatically, and if you just kind of let things go their course, you're going to neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of hands. There's there's things God has shown you. There's things God has told you, and if you don't cultivate those things, there's going to be a neglect.
So, he says, meditate on these things and and give yourself entirely. There's there's a dedication to this. I'm pursuing these things. So that I can be available. For the next time. That God opens the door. There's a need that needs to be met. Paul says that you're evident or that your progress may. Be evident to. All Timothy, I'm expecting you to progress in these things. And that progress will be evident as you have devoted yourself to cultivating. Those qualities that are necessary for the role that God. Has called you to. Well, finally point #4. Concentrate on God's calling for you. Concentrate as we. Work to overcome and seek to understand how to overcome problems in a church community. One of the things that we need to do as we develop those qualities is then to focus, to specialize, to concentrate. On what God is calling for us individually, I'm going to read verses 2 through 6 again, it says, then the 12 summoned the multitude of the disciples and said. It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 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. But we will. Give ourselves continually to prayer and to. The Ministry of the word. And the saying please the whole multitude and they chose seven guys. Whom they set before the apostles and when they had prayed. They laid hands on them. Notice the concentration. The focus. In verse 2, the Apostles say it is not desirable. That we should leave the word of God and serve tables not desirable. The ideal solution to this is not that we step away from what we know. God has called us to to help work in this capacity and resolve this. To me, this reminds me. I know I've shared it often, but I will share it again. There are lots of things that are good that you should not do. Because they take away from where God wants you to concentrate and there is a need for us to have a little bit of understanding of that. So we don't get derailed. Because there is going to be, there's so many good things to do. There's so many real legitimate. Needs around us. If we're not concentrating on what God has called us to do, we will definitely get distracted with good things that God hasn't called us to do. It's not like there's, you know, so few opportunities to serve God. And so, you know, you just gotta take what you can get there. There is good things to do that are competing for your attention and focus and energy. There is real legitimate needs and opportunities all around you. And so there's a need for recognizing that. And so they say it's not desirable. That's not the ideal scenario. I think Jesus gives us a good example of this as well in. Luke chapter 4. Verse 42. It says when it was day he departed and went into a deserted place and the crowd sought him and came to him and tried. To keep him from leaving them. But he said I must preach the Kingdom of God to the other cities also. Because for this purpose I have been sent. Jesus says it's not desirable for me to stay here and neglect all those other cities. How awesome and exciting to have a crowd that wants to hear that's begging to hear more, that wants more of Jesus. Wow, that's great. But also it's not desirable. The ideal is not for me to stay here because, well, what God has called me to is also all of those other cities. And so this is a great opportunity, a great open door. Good thing that I must say no to. In order to. Be faithful to what God has called me. Too, and so concentrate on God's calling for you. You're going to have many things that compete for your attention and time and energy and resources, and we just can't do it. All we have to learn how to say no. I'm going to focus on what God has called me too. And that's what they do verse 4. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the. Ministry of the word. And so we're going to focus on this. This is what God has called us to. This is our role. The 12 apostles say so. This is what we must do, and we're going to focus on that. Now I know some of you might be thinking, Jerry, this sounds crazy coming from you. I mean, you know, you do too many things already. Here's what I would say. Everything I do is in service of our primary weekly services, and that's the concentration that God has given to me. And so my focus is entirely devoted to Sundays and Wednesdays. And yes, I might juggle a lot of things for Sundays and Wednesdays, but my Mondays and Tuesdays and Thursdays and Fridays and Saturdays are a lot lighter because where God is focused to me and called me to concentrate is Sundays and Wednesdays. I know. There's a lot that happens on Sundays and Wednesdays, but that's where God's called me to concentrate. I I don't do all the website stuff that I would really want to do. I don't do the. Create the Bible study tools and things to develop that. I would love to create and develop. I don't attend all the gatherings that I'd like to attend. I don't fix the broken things around here that I'd like to fix. I don't clean all the things that I'd like to clean. I don't spend time with all the people that I'd like to spend time with. I don't organize the events that I'd like to organize. I don't clean up all. The cords that I see around here that need to be cleaned up and straightened out, I don't straighten the chairs that are not aligned. Like there's a lot of. Stuff that I don't do. Because I know I need to concentrate on what? God has called me. To do. And I I suggest that that's true for all of us, that there's a concentration that there's there needs to be, of course, a willingness that Lord, however, you want me to serve you. I will serve you no matter what it is how however, if I deem it, you know, a really noble thing or not. We need to be willing to do anything for the Lord, but also we need to concentrate. On what God has called us to so that we are not unfaithful to the Lord by being involved in a bunch of good things that God never called us to get involved with in a similar way. This is what happens to now these seven and verse 3. The apostles say therefore seek out from among you seven men whom we may appoint. Over this business now, these seven, they're going to have other opportunities, but they're going to need to concentrate on this ministry. And so God moves. Them on we see both Philip and Stephen get, you know, redirected by the Lord. But this is now to be their focus. They're to be appointed over this business and they can't go well, you know, I was gonna do a good job with the widows, but there was this Bible study opportunity. And so I just really thought I should take care of that and give this Bible study. I mean, it was really. Just an open door. And yeah, I know the Hellenist widows got slighted again, and they didn't get, you know, the the portion that they needed and stuff. But there was this other opportunity, right? No, no, no. You need to concentrate on what you've been appointed to. That's your faithfulness to the Lord. This is what God's called you to. And so. They said them before the apostles. In verse six. They prey. They lay hands on them. They're deferring the authority. The responsibility OKU 7 this is your responsibility. Concentrate on this and don't let other things creep in and cause you to be unfaithful with this ministry that is now being entrusted to you. And so whatever our role is, it's not about classifying better or higher or lesser work. Whatever God calls us to do is a high. Calling and we're all serving the Lord. But we need to concentrate. On the things. That God is calling for us to do and for us to be involved in and so. Here, looking at acts chapter six, we get a good model for us to follow. How to overcome problems in a church community. It's going to happen cause we're people and we gather together. Things are going to get. The but if we care about the complaints in the community. If we collaborate to solve those problems that crop up in the Community, if we cultivate within ourselves qualities to enable us to serve the Community, and if we concentrate on those things that God is calling each of us to do, there's going to be well verse set. 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's going to be growth, there's going to be progress, there's going to be love, there's going to be good things that God does. As we face those problems. And receive the strength that comes from one another. Again, Proverbs 14 four. Where there's no oxygen, the through is clean. You could have a lot less drama in your life, a lot less problems. If you just walk away from church. But you will not benefit from the strength of the body of Christ coming together loving one another, ministering to one another, devoted to one another. We will not benefit from all that God has provided for us. And so we gathered together, and that means there's going to be some messes. There's going to be some problems. There's going to be. Some big opportunities. We can overcome them. And be so much better for it, it's worth it is the point? Yes, it gets messy, but it's worth it. We all grow and develop in Ephesians Chapter 6. The Apostle Paul talks about the body of Christ is joined in it together by what every joint supplies according to the effect of working by which every part does its share, and it causes the. Growth of the. Body for the edifying of itself, in love. It's the joining together the one another. The interactions between us, the commitments to each other, the serving of each other. That benefits us all greatly and brings us to maturity and so. We renew our commitment to the Community, to the Lord in one another, serving one another. And yes, there's challenges. Yes, there's irritants. Yes, there's nuisances, but. We're so much better off. Facing those things, working through them and learning how to find our role and our part. In the Community that God has called us to Lord, we thank you for your wisdom and Insights, Lord and your brilliance, Lord and your engineering of the body of Christ, to bring us together. To equip and anoint each one for the various roles and responsibilities and opportunities and needs. That will arise. What I pray that you would give us great wisdom. How to love one another, how to care for one another, how to resolve issues and problems and situations and tensions that rise up. And Lord, I pray that you would help us to develop. Our relationship with you. To love one another enough to grow. To be conformed into your image that we might be better equipped and prepared for those opportunities within the Community that you will present. We pray this in Jesus. His name?