The Power of Proper Priorities
Acts 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
I. The Unacceptable Situation – vs. 1
The problem was the widows were being neglected.
Murmuring in a church is a by-product of something else more serious.
The murmuring was not the problem. The murmuring was the ripple effect of the problem.
The squeaky wheel is not the problem; it is an indication of a problem.
The problem is that the squeaky wheel needs grease.
There is no question that the widows are to be seen about and taken care of.
In fact, that is the true test of “pure religion.”
- James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
I want to expound on this “daily ministration.”
The church has to see about the widows.
But that’s not all.
There’s a lot that must be done for the church to operate.
Most church members never give it a second thought.
They go to church for years and never lift a finger to do anything.
There are hundreds of tasks that need to be fulfilled.
Not doing those tasks are unacceptable to me.
Going to church in a dirty sanctuary is unacceptable.
Grass not getting cut; buildings not being maintained – that is unacceptable.
Driving vans and busses that don’t work is unacceptable.
The list of situations that need attention is never-ending.
II. The Unreasonable Service – vs. 2
According to verse 2, it was the general consensus that it was the apostle’s place to meet that need.
People were looking at them as if it was their job; their duty; their responsibility to take care of the widows.
There was a bona-fide problem in the church. The widows were being neglected.
But two wrongs do not make a right.
There is such a thing as creating more problems by incorrectly addressing the problem.
Many pastor’s first instinct is to address the murmuring problem with a “make it stop” approach.
Their first solution was to personally attend to the needs of the widows.
Their first reaction was to go serve tables.
The approach should be to fix the problem.
Serving tables is a temporary relief.
Notice the apostle’s conclusion: “It is not reason…”
ILLUSTRATION: Exodus 17
- 10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
- 11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
- 12 But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
- 13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Moses was sitting on a rock while Joshua and the soldiers fought the battle.
His job was preeminent; they just didn’t know it.
Moses was fighting a different kind of battle; a spiritual battle.
His job was different from their job.
In our text, there are two kinds of ministry.
1. The daily ministration – vs. 1
2. The ministry of the word – vs. 4
To be honest, I have been unreasonable more times than I care to admit.
I have chosen the unreasonable service and neglected the prayer and the word.
My problem is, I enjoy the daily ministration.
I like to get my hands dirty.
I’d love to be the Joshua out there swinging the sword.
I enjoy the menial tasks.
But as the pastor, I have to made a choice: the daily ministration, or the ministry of the word.
For me to leave the word of God, and to serve tables, that is “not reason.”
The power is time spent with God in the Word and in prayer.
Serving tables might make me personable, but it doesn’t make me powerful.
III. The Unanimous Solution – vs. 3, 5
Their solution was to delegate qualified people to take care of the widows, and free up the pastor.
- Acts 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude…
I love this verse!
This church has over 10,000 members, and they were unanimous.
They were in complete agreement that the man of God needed to be doing his job, and they needed to be serving tables!
The solution was brilliant for a number of reasons.
A. The Widows were Protected
B. The Workers were Productive
C. The Word was Preeminent
It was a win-win-win.
IV. The Unprecedented Success – vs. 7, 8
Because of the biblical and reasonable solution, everybody won.
The church experienced a new level of growth and impact.
The widows were not murmuring.
The church members were not sitting at home doing nothing.
And the pastor was not forsaking the word and prayer.
There was only one possible outcome for a church that was practicing this: unprecedented success.
A. The Success of the Scriptures – “…the word of God increased.”
The Word of God increased because the preachers were studying, digging, meditating, preparing.
The messages got deeper. The truth got more powerful. The teaching was more solid.
Many preachers have shallow messages because they don’t spend enough time in the Word.
The Bible is like a gold mine. You have to dig it out. You have to work to get it all.
Imagine Calvary Baptist Church when and if the Word of God can increase??!!
Imagine the quality of messages when the pastor can study without stopping to do petty tasks.
Imagine the power in the preaching if the pastor can study and pray more and serve tables less.
B. The Success of the Soulwinning – “…the number of disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly…”
The number of disciples multiplied because the church was operating like God intended.
People get saved when the pastor prays and studies.
People get saved when the church members get involved in the daily ministration.
Imagine if the pastor could study on Saturday, and the church went soul-winning.
Imagine if the church brought visitors so the pastor could preach to them.
C. The Success of the Servants – vs. 8 “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders…
The apostles had this desire: to “Give ourselves continually” – vs. 4
Notice Paul’s attitude as a leader and a pastor:
- 2 Corinthians 12:15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
They can’t give themselves continually to the word and prayer, and the daily ministration at the same time!
Just because you have a pastor that “will gladly spend and be spent” doesn’t mean you have to let him.
They need to “give themselves” to prayer and the word.
The church needs every member to get plugged in and help carry the burden of the ministry.