Word Ministry and World Involvement
Our Father in Heaven, we pray that, by Your spirit, You will soften our hearts and open our eyes so that we may know Your will. Whether for the first time or for the thousandth time, Father, please capture us by the wonder of Your salvation. Amen.
1. The Context
At this time, the church was quite young, but growing rapidly. Yet with that growth came problems—bitter opposition and persecution would be a permanent feature in the rest of the Acts. This week we look at two things in Acts 6:1-7 that goes together—the ministry of the word and the involvement of the world.
It was a period of rapid expansion for the church. It began to organize social support for the needy. The church had established a daily distribution to provide for widows. However, the Greek believers thought that the church was discriminating against their widows in the daily distribution, and complaints arose.
2. Apostles’ Solution
The most important point implied by the incident is from the apostles’ words in verse 2 and 4:
“It would not be right to neglect to the word of God in order to wait on tables. …We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
Seven men were chosen to address the matter and take over the responsibility. There is no indication here that the apostles felt that the administration of the daily distribution was unworthy of their concern, but they had been called to a different form of service—proclamation. Serving tables was not a demeaning task. Its dignity is shown in the high qualification that it requires—an abundance of the Spirit and wisdom.
3. Word Ministry & World Involvement
The word ministry will motivate world involvement; you must have both. But let’s be careful because it is easy for the world involvement to interrupt the word ministry, so the latter must come first.
The result of the handling of this incident was that the word of God spread, the number of disciples grew, and many priests became obedient to the faith. Social action is not evangelism, and good organizations such as what is recorded here cannot produce true church growth on their own. True growth relies on how the church responses to and handles social issues and how it cares for its needy members.
We must keep a balance between the word ministry and world involvement. We need to pray for those who minister the word and those who minister mercy in action, “that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:11, KJV).”