Tag Archives: Choosing


Choosing is a fact of life.   We make choices every day almost unconsciously.  Whether to go right or left at the light; or to be early, on time or fashionably late for an appointment; to have cold cereal or hot oatmeal for breakfast.

Some choices are hard.  Other decisions are easy.  Caught in between two difficult choices we often find ourselves wrestling with indecision; so, we elect to procrastinate until we must decide.

There is no free pass that rids us of the task of choosing except one: death.  Every living being must make choices.  It is inevitable and necessary.


The explosively expanding church of Jerusalem had begun with the 11 apostles  (Acts 1:12-14).  Within days the number of new Christians grew to 120 (Acts 1:15) to 3,000 (Acts 2:41) and then to at least 5,000 men (Acts 4:4 – plus women and children!).  Many of those new members were foreigners (Acts 2:5-12) who had stayed over to hear the eyewitness accounts of Jesus and to connect the dots between the Old Testament prophecies and the Passover’s events of only a couple of months before.

Taking care of all of these born-again foreigners as well as the Christian residents of Jerusalem must have been a huge task!  Food was being delivered to needy families on a daily basis (Acts 6:2) so it should be no surprise that someone would be overlooked.  Whether or not it was intentional, someone had to make a choice about how to correct the matter of feeding the foreign widows of their number.


Stated simply, when the apostles were informed that the Grecian widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food they began making choices to navigate this unique situation.  There were many ways they could have responded, among which might have included:

  1. Taking care of it themselves;
  2. Ignoring the problem;
  3. Pushing it off on someone else to figure out how to fix the problem; or
  4. Blaming someone else for the problem.

What would the apostles do?  They began making choices based upon what Jesus had taught them about leadership in Luke 22:24-26.

24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.

Luke 22:24-26

Here is what they did (Acts 6:1-7):

  1. The Grecian Jews chose to bring their situation to the attention of the apostles.
  2. The apostles chose to take their concern seriously.
  3. The apostles chose to clarify their role.
  4. The apostles chose to specify the qualifications of those who would take care of this immediate challenge.
  5. The apostles chose to let the congregation choose the men who would serve this need.
  6. The congregation responded and chose (somehow) the men and presented them to the apostles.
  7. The apostles chose to pray over the congregation’s selection and to commission them to get to work by laying on hands of blessing upon the seven men.


Gravitating to the leadership options of doing the job ourselves, ignoring problems, pushing them off or blaming is easy to do.  Alternatively, the apostles chose to empower the congregation to take care of the challenge of the Grecian widows themselves. 

First, it  allowed the apostles to stay focused upon the important things instead of the urgent problem. Second, it gave the congregation a sense of ownership and participation.  Third. it recognized leaders in the congregation for future leadership opportunities. Finally, it made it clear that “serving tables” (Acts 6:2) and “ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4 – same Greek root word used later to describe deacons) was not a hierarchical chain of command but, rather, fellow servants with differing calls to service.  


The principles that governed the apostles’ ability to chose to apply should also inspire leaders in churches today:

1.Trust God’s People

2.Empower God’s People

3.Keep Focus On Responsibilities

4.Clarify The Responsibilities of the Congregation

5.Bless The Congregation’s Decision


13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Matthew 7:13-23

How horrifying to contemplate showing up on Judgement Day only to have Jesus say, “I never knew you” (vs. 23).  In this passage He is talking to people who thought they knew Jesus well enough to use His Name to prophesy, drive out demons and perform miracles.  Their expectation was that they had done enough to admit them into the kingdom of God.  So, Jesus is addressing His followers: Christians who were religious; but, never strove to form an intimate walk with God.

The contrast He is making is between those believers who do what He says and those who do not. This passage, also, is primarily referring to all Jesus has said to this point in the Sermon on the Mount.  This is not to exclude what He said in the rest of Matthew’s Gospel or in any other gospel, for example.  While it is tempting to draw on Paul’s letters to expand on Jesus’ teachings the risk is making these teachings bend to our own agendas.

Matthew 5-7 is a great place to start our walk with God.  Coming back to this Sermon again and again helps us keep the edge of Jesus’ words sharp for the ‘heart surgery’ that we so desperately need.


There will be believers who will not take Jesus seriously and will not do what He says in the Sermon on the Mount.  They did all of the right things and they outwardly gave every impression of walking with the Lord.  Nonetheless, broadly speaking, their walk involved justifying ungodly attitudes (Matthew 5), a superficial relationship with the Lord rather than an intimate walk (Matthew 6) and a habit of asking God for the wrong things (Matthew 7).


There will be believers who just do not submit to the self-examination that is required in the kingdom of heaven.  Rather, they do the right things in the right way but harbor attitudes that do not belong to citizens of the kingdom (Matthew 5).  They are not interested in examining their beliefs and traditions so they can walk more closely with the Lord (Matthew 6).  They are judgmental towards others but eschew the self-examined lifestyle that is required (Matthew 7).  Their fruit betrays their relationship–or lack thereof–with the Lord.


Jesus is talking to people  who have been attracted to Him, appreciated His teachings, and chosen to follow Him.  At this point, however, Jesus makes it clear that these teachings about the kingdom are critical life or death decisions for our eternal destinies.  The contrast is between those who take Jesus seriously and those who do not.   Choose to listen and do!  This is what kingdom people do because their deepest desire is to be like their Father.  For Jesus to not know someone simply means there was no relationship.


From Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement”

It seems to me that the greatest tragedy of tragedies will be for a person to have followed Jesus; but, from a relational distance that led them to totally miss the most important things.  Being religious will not suffice.  Doing great things for the Lord will not be enough.  Doing all of the right things in the correct ways will fail to save us. The real question, in the end, will be whether or not Jesus knows me as I have striven to know Him by listening to Him and doing what He says.