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Growing Pains (Part 2)
a commentary on Acts 6 (Interpretation)
Thank you, Lord, for this day. May it be used for your glory!
Good morning everyone and welcome back to Biblit!
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Today, we are going to dive a bit deeper into Acts 6 and see what Luke is trying to tell us. What lessons can be learned from the bickering widows and Stephen’s boldness?
Let’s find out!
Celebrate Gospel-Centered Growth
We have been told multiple times in Acts already that the church is experiencing extreme and rapid growth. Yet, what were the disciples doing to gain all this traction? Fancy movie nights? Free puppies? Complicated social media campaigns?
Nope, they were sharing the gospel, praying, and making disciples just like Jesus did.
A lot of churches today and throughout history have been all about numbers. How many people do we have?
Now, even in Acts, we see Luke talk about numbers too. We’ve seen it multiple times, 3,000 here, 5,000 added there. So are the numbers of members in a church wrong?
I don’t believe so, no. I think Luke added them in because the numbers represent individuals.
And the individual people are vastly important.
The problem comes into play when we idolize the total number instead of loving each individual person.
The problem comes when people care more about growing numbers through fancy campaigns rather than preaching the gospel as commanded and allowing God to worry about the growth just as the disciples did.
The disciples didn’t do flashy things…although I suppose you could argue miraculous healings were pretty spectacular to witness. But they did healings and preached the gospel and prayed.
They never cared about the numbers, just about the gospel.
Expect Growing Pains
If we learned anything from last week’s Biblit, it is that extreme growth in the church doesn’t always mean everyone coming in is bringing good fruits.
Jesus Himself taught this in Matthew 13:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea. It collected every kind of fish, and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but threw out the worthless ones.” (Matthew 13:47-48 CSB).
The important part here is that the failure with Ananias and Sapphira and the bickering widows who didn’t get rations are not because the disciples were at fault for some sin.
These things are just because they had rapid growth pulling in broken humans.
They were doing everything the way Christ taught them, sharing the gospel and teaching God’s word. Psh, a lot of them wrote parts of the Bible. But in the end, they still didn’t have a perfect church.
The solution the disciples took was elegant and reminded me of an Old Testament story.
See, in Exodus 18, Moses was beginning to get overwhelmed. Since he was the mediator between man and God, if the people had questions, they had to go to him.
Well, add on top of that the many other duties of guiding 2 million+ people through the desert, and you can see how cracks might start to form if it all relied on one man.
That’s when God sent Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law to talk some sense into him. He told him about this foreign concept called “delegation.”
Once Moses was able to split up the work a bit more and create a hierarchy, then the chaos subsided.
It took bickering widows to show the disciples that they simply couldn’t do it all. Perhaps it was straight from the Holy Spirit, perhaps they remembered Moses’s story, or most likely a bit of both. But either way, the disciples too remembered the power of delegation.
Their first and foremost role was to pray, preach the gospel, and make disciples.
The other duties like taking care of widows were dear to their hearts, but they knew they couldn’t sacrifice the more important duties. If the widows were fed physical food, but no one ever heard the gospel, then soon the church would dwindle to nothing.
Their dedication to prayer imitated Jesus’s own dedication to prayer. They took it seriously and knew they couldn’t multitask prayer, they couldn’t remove it, even if it meant prayer vs feeding a hungry person themselves.
Spurgeon has this quote about the importance of dedicated prayer:
“Of course the preacher is above all others distinguished as a man of prayer…The minister who does not earnestly pray over his work must be a vain and conceited man. He acts as if he thought himself sufficient of himself, and therefore needed not to appeal to God…He limps in his life like a lame man in Proverbs, whose legs are not equal, for his praying is shorter than his preaching.”
Stephen’s Bold Ministry
I think my favorite part of Stephen’s story is that it was recorded that the religious leaders couldn’t argue back. They were speechless and simply left angry.
We don’t see yet what Stephen’s preaching is like, but we will get a sneak peek next Biblit.
But we do know a couple of other things about Stephen that make this really cool to me.
First, he was one of the men appointed to take care of the widows. But clearly, he went above and beyond simply waiting tables and was also taking any opportunity he could to share the gospel in a profound way.
Second, Stephen didn’t attend Bible college, and he didn’t have a seminary degree. Those didn’t exist yet. He, instead, was filled with the confidence of Jesus. He trusted Jesus’s words found in Luke:
“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you. They will hand you over to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to bear witness. Therefore make up your minds not to prepare your defense ahead of time, for I will give you such words and a wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” (Luke 21:12-15 CSB).
And with that, we’ll call it a day! Check back in tomorrow and we’ll dive into some application points!