Knowing the growing pressures of the early church, the apostles made a declaration about priorities. Acts 6 is a display of the growing pains that occurred naturally in the church. The apostles were knee-deep in feeding the hungry; helping the widows and the needy. While the function was important, the demand was taking time away from their calling. The apostles made a decision of higher priority. They would devote themselves to “prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Devote comes from the Greek word meaning “to persist at” or “remain with.”
The decency of caring for the widows stood in the way of the ministry of the word. We call it, Sacred Substitutes. It occurs when a good work is at odds with more important things. It’s when we miss prayer because we are doing other “good things.”
Sacred Substitutes have grounded the work of the church as they divert our attention from faithfulness to the house of God. Worship is bypassed as other duties are attended to. It was the separation of Mary and Martha: Wholesome activities interrupt the attention given to the preaching of the Word and to prayer. This is an emerging conflict in the lives of busy Christians. Joshua told us to meditate on the Book of the Law (Josh 1:8). Paul said, Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Yet, we have no time to devote to thinking or meditating because we feel pressed to do that other good thing. The Spirit is calling us back to prayer and deep intercession where we shut out the busyness of life. I feel the Lord calling us back to His house for Worship; forsaking the cares of this world.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole