In Acts 6:2 (NIV), when the Grecian Jews complained that widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food, the apostles gathered the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.”
At first glance, this verse struck me as a bit haughty, as if waiting on tables was beneath them. However, it’s a great example of why no verse in the Bible should ever be considered out of context—it can be horribly misconstrued. Now let’s put this one back where it belongs. The next line, verse 3, reads: “Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” With this in mind they first chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit.
In other words, these men needed some hefty qualifications in order to “wait on tables.” They needed to be full of the Spirit, full of faith and full of wisdom. Let’s look a little deeper.
I like this passage because it fits into my theme of the Body of Christ. All these parts are important: prayer, preaching, service and generosity. Each needs the gift of the Holy Spirit in order to complete the Body, and with this division of labor, the word of God spread and their numbers increased (Acts 6:7).
So in other words, the waitresses—also known as those gifted in service—were important. Not only did they allow the preachers freedom to do their jobs unhindered, their works of service spoke their faith for them. The message of Jesus Christ was displayed at their hands. Look at how Stephen was regarded among them!
The Bible tells us more. Though we know Stephen was not chosen for his ability to orate, when the Holy Spirit called him to do so, he did. It says men tried to argue with him about his faith, but could not stand up against the wisdom by whom he spoke (Acts 6:10). And look at his long verbal history of the Jewish people in chapter 7. He knew his stuff—or at least he knew the Spirit which could give him the stuff. He was a man of great faith and is counted among the heroes of the Bible.
This is another example of how God can work in us. He created us for a purpose and gave us special gifts to use for that purpose. Yet he is powerful enough to call us out from our strengths to work even where we are weak. Why? To remind us, “Who gave man his mouth?” (Exodus 4:11-12).
So step out in faith and use your gifts. Whether or not you think they amount to anything, God knows they will. He will show you His power when you trust in Him and follow His call.
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