God’s Word for You
Acts 6:3-4 Full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, December 2, 2019
3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this duty over to them, 4 and we will continue with prayer and the ministry of the word.”
For some people, these verses drift past with little more excitement than a set of written minutes from a small church committee meeting. But some of the things the apostles are saying here (that might otherwise go unnoticed) are worth pointing out:
1, No one assumes supremacy in this matter. If one or another apostle happened to be speaking, he was speaking for the whole group and not as the leader, pope, or führer. There was no supreme pontiff in the ancient church.
2, The apostles do not tell the congregation whom to choose. They lay out the issue and let the church act on it. “Waiting on tables” was not part of their call, so they were not relinquishing any of their duties. When it was easy for them to take care of this matter, that was fine, but now that the church had grown, they needed someone else to take care of such things.
3, The first criterion for the seven new men was faith. They needed to be men who were “full of the Holy Spirit.” There might have been a capable pagan or Jew who could have done this, but the men doing it needed to be Christians already. Sometimes it is suggested today that an easy way to get a man to go to church more often is to put him onto the church council, but that’s never the best solution. As with all good works, service to the church needs to flow out of faith, not out of a sense of obligation or any desire for reward.
4, The only other criterion was wisdom. I say “only,” but wisdom is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and cannot be mentioned lightly. Wisdom “is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). Such men would be ideal for handling the task.
This is another reminder that all of our actions, our good works, and our righteous deeds, are meaningless apart from faith in Christ. They must happen because we trust in Jesus and rely on him and are grateful to him. St. Augustine reminds us that we should understand the word ‘faith’ in the Scriptures to mean confidence in God, assurance that God is gracious to us, and not merely such a knowledge of historical events (about Christ and the Apostles) such as the devil also possesses. Knowledge of Jesus apart from faith does not do the devil, his demons, nor unbelievers, any lasting good at all. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19). Good works come when Christians are crushed by the law and know that our sinful condition has ruined our place with God, but that Christ in his mercy has rescued us and paid the price for our sins. Our response will be anything, large or small, that serves our beautiful and compassionate Savior. The men the apostles were looking for would understand that. May God encourage you to understand this, too, and to give thanks to our Lord Jesus on account of his mercy.
Pastor Timothy Smith