A Purposeful Meal Ticket

Conversing before BBQ in a local shanty, my friend opened his tote and withdrew notes from his studies, revealing a text of Scripture I’ve read often enough as I’m sure you have too. We would refer to it as the calling of the first Deacons and with that little bit of information you can probably turn straight to it in your Bibles. For those who can’t, Acts chapter six.

serving widowsYou’ll recall that in this account, a complaint was lodged in the church on behalf of certain widows who were being neglected. The twelve, we are told, call an assembly of disciples, directing them to select seven from among them to serve the widows, leaving the twelve free to pray, study, and preach. They did and it seems everything was taken care of.

I can’t speak for all, but for me, in the next verse I would expect to hear something like:

The seven selected men immediately went to work securing resources to ensure that the widows were fed. Each of the previous forgotten widows were invited to sit at the front of the room, plates sat before them with a special note attached to their napkin reading, delivered especially to you from your friendly neighborhood ministry team. One of the widows was given a few moments to express her gratitude for the selfless act on the part of the servant body, then everyone enjoyed their meal. So the Lord blessed them and was very pleased with their efforts.

Expect all that I want, nothing even remotely resembling this is written. Rather, we read this:

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith (v7).

I am confident with little doubt that the widows and every member of the congregation were extremely grateful for the labors of the seven, but it is interesting to me, as my friend revealed, that the Word of God affiliates the solving of this feeding problem with this only, the continuance of the gospel, discipleship, and faithful obedience.

The dispute of this text, possibly engineered by the enemy, could easily have produced different results. What if the seven had responded, “Uh, excuse me Mr. Peter, but that is what we pay you for.” What if they had refused to use their gifts given by the Holy Spirit to meet the need? If the twelve had had to take on this responsibility for themselves would verse seven not be in our Bibles?

In this narrative, a dispute is resolved, needs are met, and the gospel is preached without distractions and hindrances; where the Word of God’s gospel is proclaimed, the Kingdom grows.

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About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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5 Responses to A Purposeful Meal Ticket

  1. What is even more interesting to me MT is that this act of practical ministry is the first mention of the priests being converted. Miracles only served to incite them but seeing the poor fed and equality in the body being elevated as a principle convinced the “pastors” to convert.

    • mtsweat says:

      Exactly Pastor J. Great share! It is with gospel-intention we serve, no matter where we are gifted, and in doing so, the Word produces its fruit, even in places one will never expect.

      • ccragamuffin says:

        Verily, verily to your comment Joseph.

        The seven are often called deacons because they were serving, and the Greek word for active service is diakonia. The Seven served tables, they served widows, they served The Twelve. A whole lot of serving going on. And The Seven were individuals of great giftedness, Stephen and Philip were evangelists and preachers. What if they would have scoffed at waiting on tables and being busboys? Active serving didn’t just further the gospel, maybe active service is the Gospel.

        We have taken an action and made a title out of it. We (meaning me) even tack another word on to servant to make it more palatable…isn’t it common to speak of “servant leadership”? I mean, who wants to be JUST a servant? Oh…that’s right…JUST Jesus.

        An interesting side note to you MT…the only time the word diakonos IS used as a title is in Romans 16:1…for Phoebe…sister of us…Deacon of the church. Hmmmmmm.

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