Dealing with Complaints - Acts 6

Dealing with Complaints

Acts 6:1-15

The church in Jerusalem was experiencing phenomenal growth.  On the Day of Pentecost about three thousand people came to Christ.  Acts 2:41.  Following the healing of the lame man in Solomon's Porch "the number of men came to be about five thousand."  Acts 4:4.  Church growth was progressing from addition to multiplication.  "And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women."  Acts 5:14. 

"Now in those days, when the number of disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint...."  Constant growth is accompanied by constant change, which generates its own problems.  Complaints are inevitable.  In Acts 6:1 it appears that the complaint was legitimate.  The complaint was "against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution."  The Hellenists were Greek-speaking Jews, probably a minority in Jerusalem.

Their complaint was not ignored or simply dismissed.  It was brought to the attention of the twelve apostles, who "summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.'"  The Lord had called them "to prayer and the ministry of the word."

The multitude was assigned the important task of seeking out from among themselves "seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business."  Serving tables was not a business, but rather a need, which is how the original Greek word is translated elsewhere.  The daily distribution of food to the neglected widows required the appointment of godly men.

"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."  It's interesting that all of these Spirit-filled men had Greek names.  How practical and appropriate that they should minister to the Greek-speaking widows!

Cooperation and communication are important in resolving problems and dealing with complaints.  Church leaders should assign responsibility to others in what some might regard as secular matters.  Like the apostles, pastors and teachers should give themselves to prayer and the word of God. 

When this is done, similar results are achieved.  "Then the word of God spread, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith."  Acts 6:7.

Christian ministry, whether serving tables or preaching the word, requires those of good reputation who are filled with the Holy Spirit.  This is God's answer to complaints within the church.

 

Lord, You have called some to preach and some to serve in other areas of ministry.  Thank you for the gifts that You have given to the church.  Teach us to use them wisely.  In Jesus' name.  Amen!

 

Stephen, God's Martyr - Acts 7 

 
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