“Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.” (Acts 6:3, ESV)
After the Day of Pentecost, the early church experienced a time of rapid growth. And growth can cause growing pains. Acts 6 describes one of those times when the young church had to deal with some housekeeping problems—both literally and figuratively.
But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. (Acts 6:1, NET)
Obviously, something needed to be done before the discontent spread. The twelve apostles took time to consider the problem and develop a solution. They did not hold themselves above distributing the daily food but realized it was better to commit their time to prayer and preaching the Word rather than serving tables (verse 4). The best plan, they decided, was to select seven men from among the believers to carry out this daily task.
It was basic work, nothing glamorous, but care was taken in making the selection. The requisites were to have a good reputation, be filled with the Spirit, and have wisdom. Why such requirements just to put food on the table? Couldn’t anyone do that? Of course. But not everyone would do such humble work with a spirit of love, respect, and concern for the ones they were serving. Perhaps this is a lesson we should all take to heart.
One of the seven men chosen was Stephen, whom the Bible describes as “a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.” We often speak of him as the first Christian martyr, and he later was. But let’s look at what Acts 6:8 (ESV) says, “And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.” God used Stephen in a mighty way. What happened between verse 6 and verse 8? I’m not sure of the time interval but allow me to suggest what may have happened. Stephen proved himself. Serving tables may seem menial to some, but Stephen willingly stepped into a task that needed to be done—and performed with excellence. He was a man of godly character, and God saw that He could use him in even greater ways.
Do you feel a call upon your life for a particular area of ministry, but the door has not opened yet to fulfill that call? Perhaps God is deliberately allowing you time to prove your willingness to do whatever task He sets before you. Are you as willing to fill an “insignificant” role just as readily as you will a “spotlight” position? Do you have the humility to clean the toilets, pick up trash, and pull weeds from the flowerbeds? Or will you only respond if asked to lead a group, be on the worship team, or do pulpit ministry? Are you willing to do whatever and wherever?
God is still looking for those who are “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom.” He will do great things in your life if you humbly answer His call to service.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” (Colossians 3:23, NKJV)