A seminar presenter was teaching his audience about time management. To make a point, he took a large jar, placed some fist-sized rocks in, then some smaller ones, then gravel, and finally sand until the jar filled to the brim. He was pointing out to his audience that if you do not put the big, important things on your agenda first, the small things will push them out.
In Acts 6:1-7, Jesus’ Apostles needed to follow a similar procedure to resolve a problem. How they solved the problem reveals the bedrock from which all other activities in the church spring.
They had a good problem; the church was rapidly growing. However, growth often leads to growing pains. Things were getting missed. Namely, some Greek widows were being forgotten in the daily distribution of food. Widows, at that time, comprised one of the most vulnerable groups in society. The early church quickly provided a way to assist this vulnerable group; however, now one demographic was being missed.
The Apostles immediately took ownership of the problem. They did not make excuses or try to sweep it under the rug. The problem was serious; some widows were not receiving sustenance.
To make matters more complicated, the Apostles were the ones responsible for the food distribution. To meet the need on their own would mean giving up their chief role of preaching and teaching the Word of God.
They needed to put the big rocks in the jar first. Compromising their chief role would have been unfair to the community. It was on account of their ministry of the Word that this radical generosity of caring for widows sprung up in the first place. If they neglected that duty, people would forget the reason they started helping these widows in the first place. Given time, this ministry of generosity would atrophy into something crass. They needed the ministry of the Word.
Having put the big rocks in, they were ready to propose a solution. They empowered the people to nominate seven qualified people to focus their attention to this ministry. Then, after assuring these nominees met the qualifications, they laid their hands on them and prayed for them.
As a result of such wise problem-solving, the church began to swell even more. Generosity increased. Throughout the history of the church, great revivals of preaching the word have always resulted in great generosity toward the least and most vulnerable among us. The Word is the foundation from which generosity springs.