June 26, 2019
There's an interesting repetition of the word "neglect" in Acts 6. In verse 1, the Greek-speaking believers noticed that their widows were being neglected by the Hebrew-speaking believers who distributed food within the Church. Surely Jesus, who identifies with the poor and hungry (Matthew 25:35), did not want these women to go hungry. The implicit cultural division behind the neglect (Hebrews overlooking Greeks) made the issue even more of a scandal to the Gospel. Something had to be done to stop such neglect.
But when the Apostles learned of the complaint, they responded by saying "It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables" (Acts 6:2). Such a response sounds harsh, even elitist, until we read that they went ahead and appointed seven deacons (all with Greek names) to ensure that the neglect of the Greek widows stopped. The Apostles' clear sense of their calling, their priorities, and their solution to the crisis can all be instructive for us. They appointed the deacons to care for the poor and hungry so that they could devote themselves "to prayer and to serving the word" (v. 4). In a Church where we all have different spiritual gifts, we don't all have to perform every ministry. Some ministries are best delegated to the people who are most gifted to handle them. But we do have to work together. Jesus' Church needs servants who proclaim the Gospel and servants who demonstrate it in tangible ways, all cooperating to ensure that nothing and no one is overlooked. So long as we remain in relationships and don't neglect the unique gifts and callings God has given each of us, we can contribute meaningfully to broader mission of the Church.
As you follow Jesus, you might ask yourself who or what are you tempted to neglect? What causes you to overlook either the people God has entrusted to your care or the very words God desires to speak to you? Or, more positively, what are you called to devote yourself to with focused attention, like the Apostles devoting themselves to prayer and the word of God? As you pray today, ask God to help you fill in the blanks in these sentences from Acts 6 as they apply in your life: "It is not right that I should neglect ________. Therefore I, for my part, will devote myself to ________."
Grace and Peace,