Scripture:  

“And the word of God continued to increase and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”  Acts 6:7

Observation:  

This is an “if/then” type of chapter.  There was a problem brought up; a solution was found, implemented, and aligned with by all.  Result?  The word of God increased, disciples grew in number (multiplied, not additive) and priest became obedient to the faith.  What do I take away from this?  PS: We got Stephen out of this.

Application:

This entry is a bit difficult to write today. 

I have been in conversation with a few guys in the congregation about the Word of God v. the Love of God—essentially “What should come first: the Chicken or the Egg?”  The difficulty rides on trying to avoid contentiousness on my part attempting to make a particular case.  Which side of the discussion I am taking is irrelevant.  In fact, some of the things I have been attempting to say are pretty silly.

In Acts 6 there is a similar issue (and note that I am stretching a point here).  The Greek Christians are complaining that the Jewish Christians are showing favoritism to the Jewish widows and orphans over the Greek.  The basic idea is that one side is practicing a position (whether they are aware of it or not) and another side is saying “Wait a minute!”

This “one against the other” can (and does) happen within the Body of Christ (and especially the Local Church).  Many times this calls for wise men exercising conflict resolution.  There are times where out of the box, never before used, solutions are presented and executed.  There are times where reduction to the lowest common denominator to remove the conflict issues are employed—maybe not the best solution in the long run—the underlying conflict doesn’t get resolved and the result could be a softening of the Gospel. 

The Acts 6 conflict was resolved by adding deacons and taking the Apostles out of the day to day stuff so they could devote themselves to the Word.  The congregation applauded.  Another result?  The Word of God increased exponentially—and of note: “a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”  I would say that counts for a “win-win.”

Not all conflicts result like that (check out Acts 15 with Barnabas and Paul).  But the scripture is clear: God uses all things for good…according to His purpose.  (Ro 8:28 butchered)

So, why is this difficult today?  I recognize that I got “buck fever”, “target fixation.”  My “target” was so large in my eyesight that I forgot the main thing: God is sovereign and doesn’t need me for His defense.  So do I abandon whatever position I was taking?  No—I keep studying and praying and writing (yes, there are times I have to put thoughts on paper to see if I can make sense of the thing my head is swirling with) and praying and writing more.  Also, meeting with trusted brothers to bounce ideas off is highly profitable.  I should be wondering about the Word of God, I should be contemplating it, analyzing what it is saying (different from interpretation), and savoring the result of being built up in the most holy faith (Jude). 

So, what am I doing?  Backing up a bit, I am confessing my sin (basically self-importance), and repenting.  Then put my hand back to the plow and see what the Holy Spirit opens up through the Word and His Spirit.  The Gospel is beautiful, as it should be from God.  As multifaceted as God is, so is the Gospel and deserves a lifetime of study. 

Prayer:

Thank you Lord for allowing me the Grace from You to put pride in its proper place—at the foot of the Cross.  Pride can be savored, swirling about in my mouth, and I think it can be delicious.  Actually pride (exalting my own wisdom in this case) is bitter as wormwood (Prov 5).  I do not want a root of bitterness existing in my heart.  Thank you, O God, for setting me free from the dominance of sin.  AMEN.

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