Daily D – Acts 6:1
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 (NLT)
A pretty young woman came to see me one day when I served as pastor of a small country church. My bride was away and our son was napping. The young woman did not wait to be invited in. As soon as I answered her knock, she stepped right in. I was a bit uncomfortable, especially since she was so forward. She was also dressed for warm weather. (Enough said?) We sat at the kitchen table and I hoped our son would awaken from his slumber.
This young woman came to ask a question that had troubled her mind. “Is it a sin for a white woman to marry a black man?”
I really wanted our son to wake up at that precise moment. Sadly, he did not.
The question was answered. We discussed various considerations. She left. Then I heard a certain someone in the next room rousing from his slumber.
A couple of deacons wanted to know what she wanted when she came to the parsonage. That’s the thing about parsonage life. There is no real privacy. Do not make the mistake of asking my bride about parsonages. She has a list of, let’s call them “observations,” about parsonage life.
When the deacons asked what she wanted, I told them the nature of the conversation. One of them sternly said, “You told her ‘Yes’ didn’t you?”
Pride and Prejudice is not merely the title of a classic novel and a movie or two. These sins are forever with us. The euphoria of the Day of Pentecost was followed by major tests for the incipient church. In Acts 5, we read about Ananias and Sapphira. They wanted attention and credit more than they wanted to help. They wanted to have their cake and eat it, too. That did not end well for them.
Then in Acts 6, we have the report that Hebrew-speaking widows got more food in the daily feeding ministry than the Greek-speaking widows. If this was allowed to go on, it would split the church. It could destroy the great things happening day by day. The apostles wisely addressed the issue immediately. They found a solution that worked for everyone. They chose seven men with Greek names to take charge of the ministry.
What happened when they solved this problem of prejudice? We see the results in v. 7: “So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.”
Observations? Greek men were placed in charge of the problem. Apparently, they were able to overcome their ethnic and cultural differences and create a solution everyone approved. Many new disciples were made, including many Jewish priests, the kind of people who spoke a lot of Hebrew.
It is possible to solve the problem of prejudice. Replace it with something better. Humble service and a recognition of equal status and equal provision made the church bigger, broader, and better. Why don’t we give that a try again today?
I will treat every person the way I want to be treated.
Our Father, please deliver me from pride and prejudice. Empower me to develop the habit of humble service offered to anyone and everyone regardless of status or background. You make it clear that you love everyone and that you want us to do the same. I will love and serve everyone you love. Amen.
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Jeremiah 18:1-4 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Philippians 1:4-6 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Jeremiah 17:7, 8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
2 Chronicles 35:25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments. (NIV)