So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.”
This verse is situated in the middle of a story about the early church. There were widows in the church and, since widows’ options were limited as far as making a living, the church was taking care of these widows by providing food. A bit of a ruckus got kicked up when some folks in the church thought that certain widows were being singled out and overlooked. So the apostles — called the twelve in this passage — answered with this morning’s verse. There are more verses, but this is the place where I feel the focus this morning.
First off, the apostles says that it is not desirable. I notice that they do not demean the work, only state that there is a work that is more desirable for them to be doing. Which begs the question: Desirable to whom?
Desirable to God. Jesus had commissioned His disciples, now apostles, to go out and preach the Good News and to make disciples. He did not tell them to wait tables, but to go and make disciples of all nations and to teach everything that He had commanded them (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus made clear that what these men ought to be doing was preaching and teaching and making disciples.
Desirable to the church. Since many, if not all, of the new converts had not walked or talked with Jesus, it is safe to say that the source of knowledge about what He taught was the apostles. This is not to say that others were not raised up to be great teachers in their time — the book of Acts is replete with them — but that the church in its nascence was reliant on the Torah and the apostles for understanding about Who Jesus is and what He taught. This being so, it was far preferable for the church to have people who had walked and talked with our Savior doing the teaching.
As then, so now. It is desirable to God and His church that those who teach be people who walk and talk with Jesus. Obviously, He is not physically walking the globe today, but people who walk with Him will evidence it by holy living and Godly character and conduct. People who talk with Him are those who are given to prayer — much prayer; more prayer; prayer without ceasing — and to diligent study of The Bible. These things make one desirable for teaching. They are also, as an aside, the same qualities that make one desirable for any area of service — including waiting tables. The chapter continues to tell the story of Stephen, who is martyred for his faith. Stephen was chosen to wait tables and eventually found himself giving a very public and very eloquent defense of the gospel.
Let us not seek out teachers who tickle our ears, but seek out instead those whose lives evidence walking with Christ and who are given to prayer and a regular study of The Bible.