Summary: The rewards of serving well as a deacon are explored.

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“Those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” [1]

Jesus said, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” [MARK 10:45]. Jesus also taught His disciples, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” [MARK 9:35]. Though being a servant is not especially esteemed in contemporary church life, servanthood is nevertheless highly regarded in the Kingdom.

As this congregation continues to grow, we will have increasing need for more deacons to serve among the congregants. The process of seeking out deacons will move along steadily. However, as we move through that appointment process, I trust we will encourage those who now serve, those who will serve and those who aspire to serve. I say this in part because we are growing; and growth brings the need to anticipate pressures we will yet face. However, my primary reason for this particular message is that in the studies we have been presenting, this verse follows that of the qualifications for deacons. I dare not pass over this particular verse, ignoring it as though it had no application to us as a community of faith.

The Apostle has provided the qualifications required for those who would serve the congregation. He has exploded the idea that deacons have a ruling role or some other administrative role within the church; he did this by including the distaff side among those who are to serve as deacons. [2] Paul now encourages the congregation of the Lord to esteem these individuals who serve selflessly with the assembly. Each member of the Body can encourage deacons through esteeming them for their work.

SERVING WELL — The word used for “serve” is nonspecific. It is possible that it refers to any Christians who serve well. In that case, it is encouragement for each believer to exercise his or her gifts wisely and to the glory of God. While this is a possible meaning of what Paul wrote, the fact that he stated this at the end of a section detailing the qualifications and service of ministers would lead quite naturally to the view that he is speaking of deacons who serve well. That is my understanding of what the Apostle wrote; and it is apparently the understanding of the translators of the Bible I use. [3] The words “as deacons” do not occur in the original text.

How would anyone know if a deacon served well? What criteria should be used to determine whether deacons have served well, or even whether they are serving well? It seems apparent that the Word is saying that deacons who serve well are rewarded. However, who does the rewarding and how will the congregation know whether they have served well?

Well, I’ve asked the questions, so let’s seek an answer in some semblance of order. First, how shall we assess whether deacons have served well? This raises the question of whether it lies under the purview of the congregation to determine whether deacons have served well. In order to answer the question, we need to review what the work of deacons is.

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