Act 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
Murmuring is not a good word in the fellowship of believers. When I think about murmuring the first thing that comes in my mind were the Israelites who came out of Egypt and complainted against Moses of not having enough: food or water, or something else. we have seen that their complaint was answered by a miraculous answer and a judgement.
So when I read here that was a murmuring, I was afraid thinking what will happen to these new believers. Let’s understand the history. the church started when the Holy Spirit fell on the 120 disciples at the upper Room. The church begun multiplying, people began selling properties to make sure that the poor were not staying poor anymore. So it was a good will of the first Christians who practiced the words of Jesus: Mattew 26:11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
So the church was doing well Acts 2:44-45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
Act 4:34-35 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
BUT there were complaints and it seems that they had a point. From the group of Jews that were called Hellenists(or Grecians) (Jews born outside Palestine, and possibly speaking Greek) who said that the treatment received by the widows in their group was worse than other widows ( presumably were Hebrew). So since the beginning within the Jewish church we see an attempt to bring problems based on differences.
To tell the truth I was expecting to see a rough response from the apostles –they were the ones the accusations were directed and possibly a Elijah type response. Like the one with Ananias and Saphiras. Drop dead. Who were these Hellenists complaining? Didn’t they know how much the apostles had sacrificed and how hard they have been working in the new church plant. There were 3000 members (without the kids) in the beginning and then other thousands. So in the midst of those were people in practical need and the apostles while ministering the word of God they also were serving on the tables.
I was expecting apostles to justify their actions and tell the group that they tried their best and they didn’t merit accusations or complaints. They were doing the maximum.
But they solved the situation DIFFERENTLY. They gathered the disciples, explained the problem saying that their main calling was not to serve tables but to preach the word and pray. They didn’t want to be distracted for a long time. So they asked other people to join the ministry, helping complete what the church leadership ought to do. They selected seven deacons.
None dropped dead, none were called accusers. They used the complaint to create a new type of ministry that was not in existence before. This comes from a heart of humility and a listening ear.
- My friend what complains do you have in the church gathering?
- How do you validate them?
- Do they threaten your position as church leader or offer you a possibility to create a new ministry?
I pray that in this hour we are sensitive to the needs of the people God has put under our care. When we hear complaints, help us God to see where we have neglected caring and make us humble to accept that we don’t do everything perfect. Help us God to start new ministries of help and support when we see unmet needs and not to take complaints personally. Thanks for your grace.