Summary: A sermon talking about church leadership especially deacons (Material adapted from Alexander Strauch's book, The New Testament Deacon)
The little church suddenly stopped buying from its regular office supply dealer. So, the dealer telephoned Deacon Brown to ask why. "I'll tell you why," shouted Deacon Brown. "Our church ordered some pencils from you to be used in the pews." "Well, interrupted the dealer, "didn't you receive them yet?" "Oh, we received them all right," replied Deacon Brown. "However, you sent us some golf pencils...each stamped with the words, `Play Golf Next Sunday.'"
All the apostles insist that those who serve the church in an official, servant capacity must meet certain moral and spiritual requirements, from Acts 6 and 1 Timothy 3. Whenever someone is placed in a position of trust and takes on leadership responsibility in the church, the issue of proven moral character should be of utmost imporance. For example, how could the 7 in Acts 6 handle the church’s funds and minister to its most vulnerable, needy people if they were not known to be godly, reliable men who possessed unimpeachaable character?
“Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands...” 1 Timothy 5:22, NIV. Some churches are so desperate for help that newcomers become Sunday school teachers or deacons within weeks, without church leaders having any real knowledge of the newcomers’ spiritual or moral condition. Placed too hastily in official positions of trust, unknown and unexamined people have created irreparable damage to many churches.
Read 1 Timothy 3:8, 9, NIV.
First 5 character qualifications that Paul lists. We can summarize these qualifications by saying that deacons must be men of integrity and self control who live consistent Christian lives in full view of their fellow Christians. Using the language of Acts 6 to describe the 7, we can say that deacons must be “full of the Spirit and wisdom (ACts 6:3).” This means they had to be controlled by the Holy Spirit- not by money, wine or an uncontrolled tongue. Their lives had to display the works of the Holy Spirit. Tragically, too many men who are doing the Lord’s work are “full of self”, not “full of the Spirit.” Thus their concerns are with their own comfort, reputations, ideas, and advancement.
These qualities do not apply to me because I am not a deacon. In reality these character sketches describing elders and deacons are things that all Christians should desire to have more of in their lives. These are all descriptions that should describe maturing Christians.
Thesis: Let us now examine each of these 5 qualifications
Men worthy of respect
The words respectable and honorable also help to convey the meaning. Must be a man who is known and respected by the congregation.
Paul’s qualification, “worthy of respect”, corresponds with the apostles’ qualification in Acts 6:3, “of good reputation (NASB).” “Of good reputation” means that the 7 had to be men who were known and well spoken of because of their good character and skills. Furthermore, the qualification, “worthy of respect,” includes the Acts 6 qualification, “full of wisdom.” Men who are wise are men who are “worthty of respect.” A person cannot be a deacon if he isn’t wise. The wisdom referred to in Acts 6 means good judgment in both spiritual and practical matters. It takes a great deal of discernment to deal with people and spiritual matters.
A servant must be sincere and trustworthy. Sincerity is most evident through speech. not double-tongued in NASB.
My father drummed an old saying into my head: A man is no better than his word. Nothing destroys Christian community like deceit. “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body.” Ephesians 4:25, NIV.
What exactly is meant by double tongued? Saying one thing to one man and a different thing to another man. Give them what their itching ears want to hear. “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37
not indulging in much wine
Those who get drunk have many woes. “Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine.” Isaiah 5:11, NIV.
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18, NIV.
A person in a position of trust over other people can’t have a drinking problem. Scripture specifically warns leaders about the dangers of alcohol. ““It is not for kings, O Lemuel--not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.” Proverbs 31:4, 5, NIV.
Drunkenness has ruined countless lives. The misery and heartbreak that alcoholism has caused multitudes of families is beyond imagination. It reduces life expectancy, breaks up families, and destroys people financially. No one who who has worked with the families of alcoholism can joke about its destructive power.