Summary: Three aspects of deacons
Text: 1 Tim 3:8-13, Title: Humble Church Servants, Date/Place: 4.22.18, WHBC, AM
A. Opening illustration: “The world may assess a man’s greatness by the number of people whom he controls and who are at his beck and call; or by his intellectual standing and academic eminence; or by the number of committees of which he is a member; or by the size of his bank balance and the material possessions which he has amassed; but in the assessment of Jesus Christ, these things are irrelevant.” -Barclay, the pastor at the Promise Keepers conference who was always in the competition to serve his wife more that she did him. “some churches wrongly elevate deacons to the position of executive board members, others mistakenly reduce deacons to building managers, glorified church janitors, or sanctified groundskeepers.” -Strauch
B. Background to passage: the church of Christ whom God has called out from among all nations to reflect his praise and worth for all eternity. It is the most precious and valuable entities on the planet, because he shed his blood for it. It will be the only one that will be gathered together one day to a marriage to Christ the King. Ephesians tells us that the church’s eternal purpose is to put on display the manifold wisdom of God to rulers and authorities. Therefore, God has a design for leadership and operation in his church (many things that distinguish us as Baptists rely on our understanding of these things). He sets aside (ordains) men to rule and lead in service as examples to all those who minister in the church. Raise your opinion of Christ’s bride!
C. Main thought: Three aspects of deacons
A. Their relationship to character (v. 8-10, 12)
1. They are to be esteemed as worthy of respect and honorable. They are not to be two-faced, hypocritical, or insincere. They are not to pay attention to or be concerned about wine and alcohol. They are not to be shamefully greedy. They are to have a good knowledge and conviction of the faith, but not necessarily must be able to teach it. Some may have that gift, but it is not required to be a deacon as it is an elder. We must test them and see that they are found unaccusable (same word used as with elders). Also, just as the elders, his marital fidelity inside and outside must be clear. They are to manage/disciple their home well.
2. Verse 11: I believe is dealing with the wives of the deacons, not the female deacons. Here are the reasons. (1) the word deacon is not used in v. 11 as it is in v. 8 and v. 12, (2) word for wives/women is same usage as in verse 12, (3) Paul’s concern for purity in relationships between men and women in the church would more easily be achieved if they were wives instead of female assistants to the deacons, (4) there is no mention of the marital status of these women as done with both elders, clearly male deacons, and older widows who remain unmarried and chaste, (5) it better explains the placement in the paragraph
3. Col 3:12-13 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
4. Illustration: “The Christian who desires to be great and first in the kingdom is the one who is willing to serve in the hard place, the uncomfortable place, the lonely place, the demanding place, the place where he is not appreciated and may be persecuted. Knowing that time is short and eternity is long, he is willing to spend and be spent. He is willing to work for excellence without becoming proud, to withstand criticism without becoming bitter, to be misjudged without becoming defensive, and to withstand suffering without succumbing to self-pity.” -JM
5. Just like last week, these character traits are not uniquely Christian and are listed in other places in scripture as expressions of godliness that all Christians should aspire to and strive to attain. These are must-haves for deacons, and they are should-haves for us. Therefore, all of us should ask the questions about whether or not we exhibit these traits, whether or not the Holy Spirit has wrought them inside of us. Notice I said that the Spirit has worked them. This is not to say that we are passive in our pursuit of sanctification and godliness in our walk with Jesus, but that we are dependent upon God to have any success. Thus, when we do express those traits, we have nothing to boast about except Christ. I say that to remind us that Christianity is not moralism, nor is it self-reliant on abilities, personality or strength to “do” the Christian life. It is a holy conjunction of grace and providence on God’s part that is determinative, and diligence, discipline, and hunger that is secondary on your part.