Summary: I want us to look at what the BIBLE gives as qualifications of a deacon. Also, the question sometimes comes up, "Do we really need deacons now?" I believe that stems from a misunderstanding of what a deacon should actually be.
The church has many positions that are filled with Godly men and Godly woman, but the Bible only teaches of two offices: 1) Bishop, Elder, Overseer, or Pastor, and 2) Deacon. Churches today are filled with men who may hold the TITLE of deacon, but their lives disqualify them from actually being a BIBLICAL deacon. This leads to confusion and disunity and leaves the local church in an unhealthy position.
God is the One who ordained the office of deacon and has given the church the responsibility to prayerfully and Scripturally select those men who would SERVE and use that office to bring honor to Him and the Body of Christ.
We need also to understand at the forefront that a deacon serves in the same way that ALL Christians are called on to serve. This message is for all of us to examine the issues of deacons as a spiritual "Check-Up" of our own individual lives. There is no double-standard! It's a standard set forth by God for leadership in the church to be an example for the church to follow.
We're going to see what the BIBLE teaches are the requirements for a true deacon; not what a denomination adheres to; not what a local church has in its By-Laws; but what God's Word says.
Notice how Paul begins this section in verse 8: "Likewise." It transitions from the previous section dealing with pastors. The two are very similar, because Paul is speaking of the man's character which is controlled, guided, and directed by the Holy Spirit of God. Their qualifications are basically the same; the only difference is that the Overseer is gifted by God in communicating His Word.
Now, a deacon is not to be a director nor a dictator of the church; he is to be a SERVANT from God to God's church. And God will hold that man responsible and accountable. It is an awesome privilege to be one of God's deacons! Just about anybody, it seems, can be a deacon in name only, but for the Lord's work, not just anybody will do!
Let's look at this passage. There are six characteristics that we can see in these verses.
#1 - A Biblical Deacon should have a FERVENT WILL. Verse 8a: "Likewise deacons must be reverent..." This man is honorable. The kind of man that God expects a New Testament church to select as a deacon ought to be a person who has a "consciousness" of being fervent. He's serious about doing the work of God. He's not foolish or silly about the things of God. That's not to say that he can't be humorous. But he knows that he's been called by God and chosen by God to complete the will of God in his life. He's FERVENT. He's sold-out to the Lord Jesus Christ. A deacon should USE the office, not just FILL the office. He's fervent to honor God; to advance the kingdom of God; and to strengthen the man of God (the Pastor). He has a FERVENT WILL.
#2 - He should have a FAITHFUL WALK. Notice the three negatives that Paul writes about: NOT doubled-tongued; NOT given to much wine; NOT greedy for money. That's a deacon's walk before the Lord...to be faithful. Look at the first negative: This is the only time that this phrase is mentioned in the New Testament...and it's to the deacon. It has a meaning of being deceptive; of being a person who can't really be trusted. A deacon doesn't say one thing to one member and something else to another member (even in his actions). One ought to be able to depend completely and confidentially on a Biblical Deacon. As a Pastor, I don't want a deacon that I can't trust. I will take that thought one step further: I WON'T use a deacon that I can't trust. A deacon should be honest and consistent. The church of God today needs men who will STAND UP for God's Word and STAND BEHIND God's man. Also, a Biblical Deacon is a STOPPER of gossip, certainly not a STARTER or a SPREADER of it! The second negative: He is not to be preoccupied with alcoholic beverage. MacArthur says it well, using the Bible: "The principle that a Christian should not do anything to cause a brother (or sister) to stumble is to also be applied to the use of alcohol. If a person by drinking alcoholic beverages cause others to fall into temptation, then in the interest of Christian love he ought to forego the temporary pleasure of drinking in the interest of heavenly treasures." The third negative: This is a serious warning against coveting. It will ruin any Christian's life, but it will most certainly destroy the ministry of a man of God. The two top things that shatter a man's testimony are fornication and finances. A Biblical Deacon is a man of integrity. He is totally motivated by love for his God and God's people, not by money or gain. His heart is not set on the trinkets of this world, but on the things of God. He keeps material things in a proper perspective. The love of money compromises honesty. A Biblical Deacon is also a tither. God does not call a thief to be a leader of His church that His Son died for. And I believe a true Godly deacon will (as God provides) go beyond the tither and will give the Lord an offering. A deacon's Faithful Walk will also free the Pastor - not free him FROM certain things, but free him TO DO certain things. The Faithful Walk of a deacon will promote church unity. It's tragic that so many times, "splits" in churches are "deacon-led."