ODJ: selfish servants

July 26, 2014 

READ: Acts 4:1-21 

“What should we do with these men?” they asked each other (v.16).

The lighthouse keepers had survived harsh and lonely conditions on a meager salary, endured the incessant roar of the foghorn and rowed their lifeboat onto stormy seas to rescue sailors. But the keepers had also resisted efforts to install a new lens that would have doubled the amount of light their station could have cast. Why? The keepers had made a financial arrangement with the maker of the old lens, and they didn’t want to lose the cash—even if it would have saved lives.
The lighthouse keepers seem similar to the religious leaders who opposed Peter and John. These priests and teachers of the law embarked on their careers to help people. But they also earned a nice income for their services—an income they would lose if Judaism was replaced by the gospel.

So they found themselves in the awkward position of challenging the disciples’ healing of a disabled person. As Peter asked incredulously, “Are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man?” (Acts 4:9). The leaders agreed they couldn’t “deny that they [had] performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem [knew] about it. But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, [they warned] them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again” (Acts 4:16-17).

The leaders’ conundrum eventually comes to everyone in the helping business. It comes to charities, who spend increasing amounts of money perpetuating their own existence; missionaries, who sometimes stifle the maturity of the national church by staying too long on the field.

Here are some hard questions for those of us who feel the need to be needed: is my service helping or hurting? If necessary, will I step aside for their good? —Mike Wittmer

365-day plan› Matthew 18:10-22

Read Acts 19:23-41 to learn what happens when we put our own jobs above the people we profess to serve. 
What are the signs that we’ve placed our service above the people that we are trying to help? Why is it so difficult to step aside and allow someone else to lead?