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. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 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, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. 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. And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
In every ministry, challenges and problems present themselves as it grows. These are good problems because it presents opportunities for others to “do the work of the ministry” as taught in Ephesians 4:12. The Grecian Jews (Jews who were scattered and were born or lived among Gentiles spoke Greek) were complaining that the Hebrews (Jews who were born and lived in the Jerusalem/Palestine area and spoke only Hebrew) widows were getting more consideration and help because of their background. The apostles were overwhelmed with the amount of study and work that they already had, so they agreed to choose men full of the Holy Spirit to help them.
The Bible describes this problem as being brought to the surface through murmuring. I find it interesting that a blazing sermon against the sin of murmuring wasn’t the highlight of this passage. There was a legitimate problem, and it needed to be fixed. The apostles didn’t have some kind of power struggle to include godly men to help them. This group of men were so effective that the church multiplied greatly again, even to the extent that some of the priests of the day accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah.
Are you filled with the Holy Spirit in the way that God can use you greatly in His work? It is a temptation to become a lazy believer, to allow the work of the ministry to just be the responsibility of those who are on a ministry salary. It is also a temptation for all, salary and volunteer believers to do the work of the ministry without being filled with the Holy Spirit….and that would be vanity. Where do you fall?
Written by Kaye Dee Richards. Kaye Dee lives in Morrison, CO with her husband Colin. They have 4 children and are active in their local church.