Called to Serve and Forgive

Key Verse: “The word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
—Acts 6:7

Selected Scripture:
Acts 6:1-8; 7:55; 8:1

IN THE TIME FOLLOWING the Day of Pentecost, God richly blessed the efforts to spread the message of the Gospel to all who had a hearing ear. Many were converted, and “the number of the disciples was multiplied.” (Acts 6:1) As a result of this, there was much work thrust onto the shoulders of the apostles, only eleven in number at this time (Paul had not yet been chosen). They were so involved with the spread of the Gospel message and its success that they had less time to minister to the personal and daily needs of brethren. Murmuring even developed among some, because “widows were neglected in the daily ministration.”—vs. 1

The apostles recognized the need to attend to the daily needs of the widows and others, yet they knew they could not leave the ministry of the Word of God. Their combined sentiment was that serving in these more ‘temporal’ daily affairs of the church was “not reason that we should leave the Word of God, and serve tables.” (Acts 6:2) They did not, however, ignore these needs. The apostles instructed the brethren to select seven consecrated brothers, “men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” (Acts 6:3) These seven would attend to the daily ministration of the brethren, while the apostles would continue to spread the word of truth to as many as would receive it.—vs. 4

Through these events we see that God recognizes our need for both the spiritual nourishment of his Word as well as the daily, temporal provisions of life. The importance of the latter is described by the Apostle Paul in I Timothy 5:8, “If any provide not for his own [brethren as well as family], and specially for those of his own house [the household of faith], he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” It is evident from the Key Verse that God was pleased with this new arrangement in the Early Church. Surely the Lord’s hand was blessing all aspects of the work through the efforts of those engaged in various capacities.

It has always been true that whenever God’s arrangements achieve success, that the great adversary Satan and his messengers are not far behind, attempting to undermine, criticize, and destroy any progress made in the way of righteousness. Stephen, one of the seven chosen ‘deacons’ to serve in the daily ministration described earlier, was the current target of these enemies of God. Being full of the Holy Spirit, Stephen gave a beautiful witness. Beginning with Abraham, and progressing down the stream of time to the death of Jesus, he laid before his accusers the truth of God’s Word. (Acts 7:2-53) So enraged were his hearers that they immediately “cast him [Stephen] out of the city, and stoned him.” (Acts 7:58) Being a faithful servant of God even unto death, Stephen’s final words were those of love and forgiveness for his enemies as he uttered in his dying breath, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”—vs. 60

Dawn Bible Students Association
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