Summary: Join us in examining the Biblical role of a deacon.
Today we elect four men to serve our church in the office of deacon. Before we participate in this election, I want to lead you in examining the question, what is a deacon? That is an important question for a church to answer. However, it is difficult to get a comprehensive answer because the Bible does not offer extensive references to the ministry of the deacon. In the KJV the word deacon occurs five times. (Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:8, 10, 12, 13) Each of these references is translated deacon in the KJV and some other translations. In these texts the word is a noun. It describes an office in the church. However, the verbal form of this word is translated servant in many other locations. One of those locations is our text for today. In Acts 6 we do not find the word deacon. However, we find the verbal form that is translated deacon in a number of other locations. We believe this event, in Acts 6, to be the beginning of the ministry of the deacon. “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 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. 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;” (Acts 6:1-2 NKJV) In verse 2 we find the word “serve” which is the verbal form of the word that is translated deacon in other locations. Therefore, if we want to define a deacon we should simply call him a servant. A true deacon wants to serve.
Joke: This week I read about a church that called a new pastor. The man was 60 years of age. His first sermon was 15 minutes long. It was kind of short but fine with the folks. The next week he preached for 20 minutes. That was ok, too. But the following week he preached for an hour and 45 minutes. The deacons pulled him off to the side and asked for an explanation. He said, "Well, you know that parsonage bathroom is so small. This morning my wife and I were running late and we got mixed up and I accidentally put her false teeth in by mistake. Once you get those things going’ you just can’t get ’em to stop." At the next deacon’s meeting it was recommended to get a bigger bathroom in the parsonage. (Contributed to Sermon Central by Mike Richardson)
Today I want to give careful consideration to what it means to be a servant. This will be our answer to the question, what is a deacon? I want to look at three aspects of being a servant.
1. Lets begin by discussing the Demands of being a Servant. Obviously, the role of serving is a demanding role. What are the demands?
A. One of the demands of being a servant is sacrifice. The servant sacrifices his time, his personal privileges and his comfort to fulfill his role. A person who becomes a servant of Jesus Christ sacrifices. When others are at ease he is serving. When others relax he is serving. Let me give you some examples.
• A number of our people teach Sunday school classes. Every week these people give up time they could using on other activities, in order to prepare a lesson.
• We have sixteen men who serve as deacons. These men give up time as they visit, attend meetings and serve our church.
Illustration: Jesus gave us a powerful illustration of the sacrificial nature of the servant. On one occasion, just before he went to the cross, he and his disciples shared a meal. Two important facts should be remembered. In those days people reclined when they ate a meal. Also, they wore sandals on their feet, which allowed their feet to become very dirty. At such meals it was the custom for one of the servants to wash the feet of the guests, as they reclined at the meal. On this occasion no one was present to wash feet. Everyone must have waited for someone to wash their feet. Jesus modeled the role of a servant when he took a towel, pan of water, removed his shirt and proceeded to wash the disciple’s feet. (John 13) Jesus laid aside concerns for his character, his reputation and his ego in order to wash the feet of the disciples that day. In that text he said “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”