“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian 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, 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, NIV84)
Conflicts will continually arise. Not might, but will! They exist because we are sinful human beings who live in a broken and sinful world. Let’s be honest, we don’t always agree with ourselves. Have you ever been in conflict with yourself? Sure you have! We all have! We anguish over a choice or a decision. We debate within our own mind the rightness or wrongness of a thought or action. The objective is not to avoid conflict, because that is impossible. Our objective must be to understand the proper way of handling conflict. In our verses for today, we learn from the disciples the proper way to deal with conflict when it arises. First, legitimize the conflict. When conflict arises we must work to find whether there is a true issue or whether we are dealing with raw emotion. In the case of our verses, the Greek Jews felt like they were being cheated during the daily distribution of food. Remember, the first Christians sold what they had and gave it to the church and they lived communally. This was a big issue if it were true. The disciples recognized the issue but rightly decided that it could not usurp the church’s primary mission they were called to maintain. So they appointed Spirit-filled men to oversee the distribution of food, while they committed themselves to God’s Word and prayer.
Note, they did not give up the primary mission to correct a conflict in a secondary mission. They also did not treat the secondary issue as though it weren’t important. On the contrary, they prayerfully commissioned seven men to take responsibility for the secondary mission and to address the conflict in a spirit of truth. What a lesson we can learn from this event. I believe that every time there is conflict Satan looks for an opportunity to get us off focus. It is his desire that we become so absorbed with the conflict that we lose sight of the truth and of our primary mission. I have talked to way too many pastors who admittedly confess that they feel like all they do is “wait tables.” They feel like they simply jump from one conflict to another. We as a Church need to make sure that we keep the primary mission in our sight at all times. We need to deal with conflict from the perspective of our primary mission. We need to address conflict in such a way that Satan isn’t given a crack to slither into and that the conflict can be addressed in and through the truth of God’s Word.