In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all 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. Brothers and sisters, 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.” (Acts 6:1-4)
Prejudice reared its ugly head in the early church. The Hellenistic Jews complained the Hebraic Jews were prejudice against them. A language barrier existed; the Hellenistic Jews spoke Greek as their first language, and the native Hebraic Jews spoke Aramaic. Even though it was the desire of the early church to take care of their needy equally, prejudice prevented it.
Because of problems in the church, the need arose to appoint elders and deacons. These men needed two qualifications: 1) to be filled with the Holy Spirit and 2) to be filled with wisdom. The wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit are necessary to deal with prejudice. Its victims are sensitive from years of abuse, and the inflictors may or may not realize they are prejudice or the harm of their actions. It was natural for the Hebraic Jews and us to want to give more resources to family and friends. In addition, Hebraic Jews were raised in a culture where temple leaders gave favor to those with more money.
Filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit, the brother of our Lord taught: “Believers in…Jesus must not show favoritism. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes…have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? You have dishonored the poor. If you keep the royal law, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.
We are to love the poor and neighbors outside of our culture. Love covers all sin.
Father God, I praise you for the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit. Fill me with Your Spirit and wisdom. Convict me when I act unloving by being disrespectful or showing favoritism. Give me power to spread Your love to all, so I can give the glory to You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.