1 Timothy 3:8-13 Deacons

 

Please open your Bibles please to 1 Timothy 3. We are going to be looking at verses 8-13. These verses talk about the qualifications for Deacons in the Church. Last week we looked at the qualifications for Elders or Overseers. These are the senior leaders in the church tasked with the responsibility to lead the body of Christ at a local level. The Elders’ main task as we will see today is to care for the people of God by handling the Word of God. The deacons role in the church is to serve the body of the church in practical ways.
Before we read this text though I want to read how they came into being, so, hold your place in 1 Timothy, and jump with me to Acts 6:1-6.
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OK, so here we see the church is growing in leaps and bounds and one of the ways that the church takes care of people is through a daily distribution of food. Well, there were some Greek speaking Hellenist widows who had been overlooked in the distribution, so the people came to the apostles and brought their complaint. So, what did the apostles do, they gathered the whole church there and said essentially that their primary task was to minister to the people through the preaching of the word through prayer and study, so it is time to appoint some people to delegate that task of the distribution to. Now, in this text, it does not say for sure that these were deacons. It uses the verb diakoneo, but not the noun diakonos. At any rate the word Deacon in Greek means to serve, help, render assistance. Which pretty much sums up the role. That is how they were begun and that in essence is their role, to serve.
I have heard it said that Elders are servant leaders, and deacons are leading servants. They serve most often behind the scenes in very tangible ways, like in Acts, serving the widows, and making sure the Hellenists were not overlooked. their role is to care.
So, now lets read today’s text, and see what we need to learn from it today.

So, here we see again the list of qualifications for Deacons in the church. As we look at this text, we are going to focus on three areas of qualification for these deacons, those are character, knowledge and competency. Before I do that, let me get one thing out of the way. Since we are here at a gender topic again, let me address it now. look with me at the verse 11. The question is this. Can a woman be a deacon. Here it says “their wives” it would seem that there are now requirements for not only the deacons themselves, but also their wives. It is a curious thing that there wasn’t requirements for Elders’ wives. Well, in the greek, it is not as clear as it may sound in english. The noun there that is translated their wives can also be translated just “wives” or even “women”. That, coupled with the fact that there are no requirements for elders’ wives, which seems inconsistent, and the fact that Paul addresses Phoebe as a servant, the same word for deacon in Romans seems to indicate that a woman can be a deacon in the church. That is what I believe to be the case, and I have not been persuaded otherwise.

Character: So, he begins in very much the same place as the Elders. Character is of utmost importance when selecting a leader. We live in a day and time where character means less and less and competency means more and more. But really, it has been that way for a long time, otherwise Paul would not make such a big deal about it. So, lets look at the character requirements for a deacon:
Dignified: “having or showing a composed or serious manner that is worthy of respect.” Is this person someone whom others have a great deal of respect because of the way they handle themselves. Do they take serious the things that should be taken seriously? Or do they not know how to handle themselves when things get real…
Not Double Tongued/not slanderers: Basically, do you keep your word? Now, in my experience in leadership in various places, they thing that can slow down or stop an organization in a hurry is someone who says they will do something and never follows through. This is something that I struggle with, and have had to work at improving upon. This goes in my work here at Emmaus, and my work in construction and in my life at home. I have found the first thing that Helps me is to not promise something I cant deliver on. This is hard for me because I am a people pleaser… Essentially though, a deacon must be someone who for the most part follows through on what they say they will do. now, no one is perfect at this, but I think the question to ask is what are they known for? Are they known as someone who generally follows through, or are they known as someone who always drops the ball? Now that is one way someone’s character can be compromised by their speech. There are many other ways as well, but essentially, how does this person handle their tongue? Do they primarily use their tongue for building up, or destruction?
Not Addicted to much wine/ sober minded: Now, I glossed over this a little last week in the qualifications for Elders, but I want to camp on it for a minute this week, speaking to all leadership roles. First off, when it comes to substances of any kind, Christians should never be addicted to anything. That goes for caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, chocolate, ice cream, Chick-fil-A sauce, you name it. Now, the thing about alcohol though is this; there are few things you can be addicted to that impair your mind the way that alcohol does. Now, I will say, I do not believe the Bible forbids drinking alcohol, in fact, we will read later where Paul tells Timothy to drink some wine. I believe that Alcohol is something that can be and should be enjoyed in moderation. I will say that scripture commands us to not be drunk, so there is a line at which enjoying alcohol can become sinful. Now, I cannot say what that line is for you, but you must ask the Lord to search your heart on the matter. Furthermore, if you are aspiring to be a leader in the church and you get drunk in front of non-christians (including potentially your children) you should not be in leadership in the church. that is one I think we can all agree on.
Not Greedy: This one is pretty self explanatory, but I think it is worth mentioning that there are people who involve themselves in charitable events, and serve in ministry because of what they gain from it. That may be notoriety, or a little ego boost, or something like that, but it is dishonest gain. I will differentiate that from the effect that as you serve, you should be blessed by it. That is different. But I will also say this, I have been around ministry a lot and I have seen many times people will involve themselves in a “Ministry” more because it strokes their ego, than the fact that they truly care for the people they are serving. Also I have seen what I perceive to be people shirking their responsibilities at home to go and serve elsewhere. In this case, what they are gaining is escape. At any rate, when you are looking for a servant, you are looking for someone who thinks of themselves last. They should have their priorities in order, Christian, Husband Father, pastor, …
Knowledge: The phrase used here is that they hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. This means that they have a grasp of the faith in such a way that it has affected their lives. Even though Deacons are not called to teach in the church, they must have a solid understanding of the gospel. They must be able to apply it to themselves, and to share it with others as they have opportunity.
Competency: They must be tested. Now, this is a tough one for churches. why, because we run on volunteers. We need people for our churn to function. So, the temptation becomes to simply find warm bodies to fill slots. the problem with that is this. God does not make us as interchangeable pieces to a puzzle, where it doesn’t matter where we go, as long as you go somewhere. As I said in discussing the gender roles, God’s plan for your usefulness takes into account the way that He made you! This is huge for us as a body. If we get this truth, and really apply this, I believe our impact of the world around us could be amazing!! Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 12:12… So here we have it God, through Paul laying out the truth that we are not interchangeable parts, we were made fore a purpose, and our job is not to try and be something we are not, our job is to find out where God has for us to be fruitful. Now, just in case that ticks you off a little bit, let me suggest something. Since God knows you better than you know yourself and He knows what will truly make you the most alive, maybe you should seek Him out and yield to His master plan for you…
Look for a second at Romans 9:20-21 God makes people for roles, and part of discerning their roles is through testing…
And to remind us all once again, the most important testing ground for these things is in the home. They must manage their children and their households well…

So, there we are, more than you ever wanted to know about deacons. They are servants of the church, they give of themselves, and they must meet the qualifications for leadership.
I want to close with this thought though. As we look at this list, I want to stress that these are not hoops for people to hump through. In all honesty, these are the marks of people whose lives have been transformed by the Gospel. They are not extra levels of Christian living, they are the basic out workings of people who trust in Jesus Christ as their savior, who lean hard on HIs word, and who take up their cross and follow Him day in and day out…
How do you hear this list?
“I’m Good” You should ask someone else to evaluate your assessment.
“I’m not there, but I’m Growing” Keep after Jesus, keep trusting in Him.
“I’m a failure! I’ll Never measure up!” You need to remember the gospel, because ultimately this is not about being someone you are not, it is about becoming who you already are…

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