Summary: Appointing Deacons reminds us of the challenges God has given to all of us to follow Christ closely and work for his cause.
God’s Special Servants: Deacons
I found this interesting illustration that is appropriate to today’s celebration of our new deacons…
**Bruce Larson, in his book "Wind and Fire," points out some interesting facts about Sandhill Cranes:
He says: These large birds, who fly great distances across continents, have three remarkable qualities. First, they rotate leadership. No one bird stays out in front all the time. Second, they choose leaders who can handle turbulence. And third, all during the time one bird is leading, the rest are honking their affirmation and encouragements.
That’s not a bad model for the church. Certainly we need leaders who can handle turbulence and who are aware that leadership ought to be shared.
But most of all, we need a church where we are all sounding off encouragements to our leaders. **
To that I would like to add a fourth thing. These Sandhill Cranes also do something else, without which they would all be lost. They all follow the God given direction that he placed within them, their instinct. The reason they can lead is because of their ability to follow.
In our text today (Acts 6:1-7) we will be briefly looking at one of the earliest appointments of leadership within the church from among those who have become some of the best followers of Christ.
But before we go to Acts 6 let’s look again at the clearest text of scripture we have concerning the qualities of those who receive the roll of “special servant” or “deacon” in the Lord’s church.
1 Tim. 3: 8 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money,
9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.
10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless.
11 Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.
12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Did you listen to those qualities? We are talking about men who follow Christ closely here. These are qualities that rub off on those who walk with Jesus. This is what happens to one who spends time looking at him, listening to him, learning from him, living like him… One who works for and worships Christ. Item number one in reaching this calling of ministry is FOLLOWING CHRIST: humbly, patiently, and persistently.
Sandhill Cranes don’t have a choice in whether or not they follow the directions God gives them. He stamps it into them by instinct. But for we to whom God has trusted his greatest treasures, there is a choice in the matter. God doesn’t drag us, he calls us. He doesn’t stamp this into us by force, but he calls us according to our giftedness and or practice. These men who have been appointed here today have made choices in their lives that serve as models to the rest of us. Their service here will be blessed if they continue to follow Christ and if we support them in the works that they are appointed to perform.
Don’t miss that last blessing in 1 Timothy 3: 13… For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Certainly we see this good standing and great boldness in Christ when we consider the deacons or servants in Acts 6:1-7.
6:1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.
3 "Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;
4 "but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,
6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.
7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
The Church was growing! Responsibilities were multiplying along with the number of members within the church. One of the ambitious ministries of the early church in Jerusalem was that of taking care of the widows. James, who served there in Jerusalem would later write: (James 1:27) This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. He wrote that from experience as well as from inspiration.