“And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.'” (Acts 6:2-3)
Grumbling and complaining: these are things church people are good at, then as well as now. In these days of social isolation, an increasing number of Church people have found a new way to voice their complaints: the online social media community. They complain about everything but more especially now about politicians and their response to the global pandemic.
The complaints of the people in the early church concerned the welfare of the widows. In ancient times they did not have Social Security. The government took no responsibility for the poor and needy. In general, most widows were among the poorest of the poor. They were unable to earn their own living; they had few if any relatives to support them. The apostles
received the relief money from church members and were expected to distribute it equitably to these needy people. This was not being done.
The Church had accepted the responsibility to care for the poor as part of the work of God’s kingdom. This was probably what attracted many to the church in the first place. The poor experienced firsthand the gospel of the Lord: help and comfort to those who did not deserve anything, given by loving Christians in imitation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, to be sure, any type of grumbling is inappropriate in Christians, for what we have been given is really undeserved and not ours to demand or claim by right. Salvation and all we have are gifts we do not deserve so we cannot demand special privileges or rank. Grumbling and criticism do not solve anything. Those believers who are critical or unsatisfied ought to come forward to resolve the situation, to take action, and to do the work of ministry at the cost of their own comfort, agenda, and even their civil rights. Those who have a complaint or see unmet needs, rather than gripe and complain, would do well to suggest how things can be made better. In addition, they should be willing to play a role in implementing their suggestions.
Though the Apostles chose Deacons to do the work of church administration, the work of ministry should not be left up to the Pastors or the paid staff. We believers are called to serve our master’s interests not our own, and at the expense of our own comfort. This is a blessing that results from obedience: we become the Lord’s instruments though whom He works and we experience His grace, love and power in us. We should fulfill our duty and responsibility with love and compassion.