Week 4: Widows Indeed Cont’d
Day 3: It Won’t Just Happen – Be Intentional – Acts 6:1-7
Starting a new outreach is a little like starting a new blog: The page is blank, the cursor is blinking, but where do I begin? The Christians in Acts faced this to some extent when the Grecians began to complain against the Hebrews because no one was ministering to their widows. The apostles really couldn’t be called away from their work in the Word, so what were they to do?
“And in those days, when the number of the disciples were multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”
The apostles came up with a pretty good solution. They chose men specifically for the task. But not only that, they also chose men with specific qualities.
First of all, they were to be of honest report. In other words, these were to be men who had a good testimony in the community, whose lives were above reproach before those outside of the church, as well as, inside the church.
Second, they were to be full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. Wisdom and full surrender to the Holy Spirit are both rare commodities but both are needful not only in this type of ministry, but in all areas of ministry.
“And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom thy set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.”
Not only were these men of honest report and full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, but Stephen in particular was also a man full of faith. Faith, which we have already seen as we considered almsgiving, is a vital part of this type of ministry – from many aspects. Not only is faith often important from a financial perspective in this sort of ministry, but even in the simple day to day decision making and in perseverance through the difficult times. Like any ministry there are those moments when you are tempted to wonder if what you are doing is making any difference, if it is worth the effort.
If God has called you, He will do it. (I Thessalonians 5:24)
The entire process here in Acts is very important. When left to handle itself, widow and orphan ministry doesn’t happen. They were intentional in their planning. They set out with the specific goal of meeting the need, devised a plan, chose those who were qualified and commissioned them to the work. The church was solidly behind the plan. It wasn’t some idea conjured up by one or two members, it was a choice of the entire body. This is very important. If the whole body is not behind the work it can become overwhelming, exhausting and a source of discouragement and offense to those who are involved. I know that sounds terrible, but it is true. This type of ministry is very demanding physically, emotionally and spiritually. Even though there will be members of the body who are not directly involved in the day to day ministering it is vital that they be there as an encouragement to those who are involved daily.
The other side of the coin is that those who are not supportive of the ministry can become begrudging of the time, energy and finances taken away from other areas of ministry in order to carry it out. Sadly, even the area being a “respecter of persons” can come into play here with members not wishing to open their church doors to “those kinds of people”. It is amazing how quickly that attitude leads to disgruntled church members. Here, however, the responsibility to teach must not be forgotten, and the teaching must be done in a persuasive, yet meek, manner. We are not dealing with a suggestion here, nor a simple method of ministry. We are dealing with a Biblical command, which needs to be understood by the whole body.
The process itself really isn’t that difficult. Deciding the specifics of what will be involved in the ministry, to what extent those participating will render assistance and to what expense, will likely prove to be the most difficult and the points of most contention. To this I would say only one thing:
Remember, Christ washed the disciples feet, He gave His life for us, our ministry to the widows and fatherless should reflect those attitudes and actions.
What are we going to do? Are we going to hope that suddenly the pieces will fall together, or will we step up and be intentional?
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Also Check out Rachel Miller’s Book: The King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption