257 – Acts 6 – Service
Acts chapter six begins with some practical “house cleaning” information the early church needed to address. Reading verse one you might never expect there to be any “spiritual” content in the chapter.
Acts 6:1 (NKJV)
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.
The “twelve” addressed the issue by saying (my paraphrase), “we can’t leave the word of God to serve tables. So here’s what we’re gonna do. You pick seven men with these qualifications. They need to have a good reputation, be full of the Holy Spirit, and full of wisdom. Then we’ll appoint them to be managers in this situation.”
The people who lodged the complaint thought this was an excellent solution. Verse five informs us they picked Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas.
But let’s look and see how the Bible gives us this list of men.
Acts 6:5 (NKJV)
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. 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,
Let’s consider Stephen for just a moment. This man is being chosen as one of seven men identified to make sure widows are being fed every day. How fat does a guy’s resume need to be in order to direct others, “hey make sure table 14 gets enough food.” Maybe he had to run some plates of food to the tables himself.
Verse three told us these men needed to be qualified for service. They needed to have good reputations and be full of both the Holy Spirit and wisdom. To be honest, I get the “good reputation”, and I get “being full of wisdom”. But what about this idea of being full of the Holy Spirit? I mean, after all, they are “just” serving tables right?
Sometimes we make artificial divisions in our minds when ministry is involved. Preaching from the pulpit or teaching a Sunday school class we see as spiritual, but wiping bottoms in the nursery or pushing a broom and cleaning a toilet as service, but not really spiritual. I would like to suggest that like here in Acts chapter six, whether a believer is preaching, praying, cleaning, or serving tables it is all service and it is all spiritual. It is spiritual because we are representing Christ and His love for His bride no matter how we serve in the church.
Look at Acts 6:8 (NKJV)
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
And Acts 6:10 (NKJV)
And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.
Stephen humbly responded to the call to serve tables and God ended up using him to do “great wonders and signs among the people”, and then to dispute the Jews, and then in Acts 7:2-53 Stephen preaches a powerful sermon that “…cut to the heart…” (vs 54). He ends up being a martyr for his Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.
Are you available to serve? Are you willing to be used by God however He sees fit whether or not you are recognized for that service? How important do you think it is to serve tables in the body of Christ?
Right after these seven men were prayed over verse seven tells us something very important.
Acts 6:7 (NKJV)
7 Then 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.
Look at the first word of the verse. First, the church got its house in order, then! Philip too has a powerful story. I don’t know about the remaining five men. Maybe their details fell to the cutting room floor as the Holy Spirit was putting together the narrative in the book of Acts. However, you can be assured that their contribution to the ministry was not marginalized. God knows about and rewards service done in His name.
As a believer in Jesus you are important and your gifts, no matter how insignificant you think they are, are important to the body of Christ.
I thank Yahweh for His word. As Hebrews 4:12 says, it truly is alive and powerful. It really is sharper than a two-edged sword and cuts and divides soul and spirit. It truly does discern the thought and intents of the heart (both yours and mine)!
Yahweh God really is worthy of not only all our praise, worship, adoration, and obedience, but so much more!