1 Timothy 3:8-13
Might be wondering – how am I supposed to take what the Bible says in 1 Tim. 3 and use it to be a better Christian? 2 TIm. 3:16 says “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” so deal with it! Seriously, though, think about principle: all Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable. Means this portion is relevant and useful to us in the church today. Especially if want to have healthy growing church that is credit to her Head, Lord Jesus.
Lord of the Church through his apostle Paul by means of Holy Spirit has clearly communicated important truths/principles to us: Lord Jesus expects his body to be in shape – properly functioning – productive. Rom. 12:4-5 “Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.” Christ has laid down principles of operation so we as body of Christ don’t function like Bambi trying to copy Thumper on the ice – falling down, going in different directions, amusing to watch but frustrating if you never get beyond that stage.
Just like in the family, church family is to have leaders and followers who serve Christ by serving one another. No surprise, are primary areas of responsibility and areas of overlap. Elders are charged with overseeing local church as a whole, primarily spiritual matters; deacons attend to material needs of the local church on basis of spiritual principles. All, whether having formal position of leadership or not, have duty to use gifts and resources for benefit/blessing of others.
Rom. 12:10 “Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor.” HCSB
Focus today on qualifications and honor of deacons, next time on the church’s “leadership team”.
A. spiritual men v.8-9, 11-12
Acts 6:3 “seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom”
known first and foremost for their faith – those who take matters of faith and practice seriously
who live consistent with their testimony – of good reputation – men of integrity
immediate “business”, “duty”, “task” – serving tables (v.2), carrying out benevolent ministry of the church
notice: primary requirements don’t seem to be related to the need; nothing about skills, all about character and spirituality
true of any area of service in the church, official or not – love for Lord Jesus that shows 24/7 in all parts of life must be present for any of the rest to matter
here talking about formal office but applies elsewhere: world-class musician with premier training and impeccable skills can “wow” an audience; without love for Jesus, cannot serve the saints in worship
Lord Jesus connected service to him with service to saints: Matt. 25:37-40 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”
deacons and trustees and treasurers and custodians and accompanists and and those who do the newsletter and pass out bulletins and take the offering and have their name on the nominative ballot at annual meeting and those who managed to keep their name off the ballot should have a reputation for loving Jesus, then using their skills for the good of the body
same spiritual qualifications as elders
full of the Holy Spirit – born of the Spirit, led by the Spirit, filled with the Spirit (Acts 6:3)
given spiritual life and understanding by the Spirit of God, having a desire to serve God by serving brothers and sisters
using biblical principles to make decisions & set prioirities both at home and in church
motivated by love for God and his people, so filled and empowered by Spirit of God that rubs off on all who are near
goal to build up the saints, not earthly treasure (1 Tim 3:8)
God gives his gifts that we may serve, not preserve; intended to be used up, worn out, given away
the Lord has blessed WRFBC with healthy bank account; attitude toward it should be “how can we best use that to help Christ’s kingdom to grow”, not “what can we do to make the bank account grow even more”
requires love for people, default setting to “give”, godly wisdom to know what form that giving should take in each situation, desire to be a minister of mercy to people in need, ability to show love of Christ in tangible ways
all that based on good understanding of biblical principles, an unshakable confidence that God’s Word has the right answer
as with elders/pastors (11)
having wives who are suitable complements to their ministry
ladies, want to make sure your husband isn’t elder or deacon? Here’s how to do it: start acting up – behave in way not worthy of respect, talk about all kinds of church stuff with friends and family, go with what you feel and don’t bother to check if it’s right or wrong, make commitments and then don’t keep them.
no matter how qualified man is to be elder or deacon, a wife with one or more of those behaviors will destroy his ministry
want to help elders and deacons serve well and joyfully? Live in sensible God-honoring way, saying what is pleasing to God in all circumstances, keeping mind and will and emotion in proper biblical balance and order, being one who is trustworthy.
families under control
just like elders, deacons must have homes that properly model family according to God’s plan
if Dad is where he ought to be spiritually and practically as head of home, if Mom is where she ought to be as complement God gave to Dad, children for most part will reflect their parents’ commitment to godliness in how they think and act
btw, children who act up can derail an elder or deacon’s ministry, too; rebellious, acting up at home and school, causing trouble or doing drugs or getting arrested or engaging in immoral behavior – sufficient reason to disqualify a deacon or elder who otherwise meets God’s standard
B. tested men v.10
tested and proven to be qualified
have they maintained a good reputation in church and community for period of time?
do they know and are they committed to the Word of God? does that show in speech, action, decision, in various circumstances over time?
do they have healthy marriage and family life? one that can handle testing and trials as well as good times?
have they shown themselves to be good managers? discerning what is theirs to do, what should be delegated? able to enable and empower and equip others to do things?
then formally recognized as servants
warning to Timothy later in 1 Tim 5:22 “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands” NIV
don’t rush to put people in office – if you’re new here, just relax! God’s Word says not to, that’s 1st importance; are good practical reasons, too
office of elder or deacon is important – that’s why there are qualifications, should be adequate time for testing / evaluation
unqualified man in either office can do incredible damage to name and cause of Christ, besides unbelievable harm to people of God
thank the Lord he frequently does major damage control on our behalf
C. honored men v.13
office of deacon not stepping-stone to another “higher” office; has an honor and esteem all its own
was instituted in Acts 6 to meet specific kind of need – ministering to needs of body of Christ; more on that next week
not intended as practice time, training ground for later pastoral office
having said that, though, sometimes men qualified to be elders are appointed to office of deacon; if that is case, and deacon has desire for pastoral office, and church recognizes his qualifications and call, change should be made
models for all
Lord Jesus said “whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.” (Matt 20:26-28; Mark 10:43-45)
not just for those who would be great: “through love serve one another” Gal. 5:13
those called to particular service model in public way what all saints should be doing
one who serves well will be respected, appreciated by those he has helped
service to God’s people is service to God – will be honored by God also: well, done, good and faithful servant
boldness in the faith
remember parable of talents – to ones who took what was entrusted to them and used it wisely, response was
“you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things” Matt. 25:21
greater resources, greater confidence, greater effectiveness, and so it goes
Whether called to office of deacon or not, we all are called to life of a servant. Lord Jesus himself came to serve, set the example for us, expects us to follow it willingly and joyfully. If we’re going to be effective at all in service to the King of kings, must live and act in total dependence on his grace. Not up to us to set the limits of our service, either. Remember our Example, what he said in the Garden that awful night: “not my will but thine be done”. May that be our prayer as we, each one of us, strive to serve God by serving one another.