Deacons are servant leaders.
That’s what the word means.
They help us make the gospel we’re proclaiming look beautiful by freeing up the elders and by leading us in loving sacrificial service.
That’s why we have deacons.
Who should be deacons?
Back to 1 Timothy now.
And, this is verses 8 through 12.
Where Paul says,
“Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.”
Which is pretty intense.
If we just look at quickly at all those qualities.
But that’s because leading and serving people is hard.
This is so important we need men of character.
Even back in that situation in Acts, where, you had this one group of widows complaining against another group of widows, you can just think, if that got out of hand, how much that would have slowed down the work of the early church, which is part of why the qualities that make someone able to be a deacon are not that different from those required for someone to be an elder really.
If you look at verses 2 through 7, in chapter 3, and then 8 through 12.
They are really similar.
In fact the only major requirement that’s different is that elders have to be able to teach, where certainly deacons may be able to teach, I think of Stephen and Phillip as examples of that, but they don’t have to be, because it is not technically, a teaching office.
But it’s a leading office.
And, that’s why a person has to be qualified to be hold it.
And we saw the first quality Paul gives us that needs to be true of the deacon is dignified.
“Deacons likewise must be dignified.”
Which means basically, a person worthy of respect. Not someone who is silly and immature. Honorable. Spiritually serious.
You need to be person, who is deep.
Who takes life seriously.
Who is dignified.
And then if we keep reading, you see Paul identifies several qualities that must not be true of the deacon’s lives, either. And, maybe, he’s even helping us understanding the way an honorable person lives.
First, he’s “not double-tongued.”
In other words, he’s not someone who is insincere. Who says one thing and means another. You know how some people, have a very difficult time being straight. It’s like they hide their thoughts with their words. They always have an agenda. And of course, these are not the kind of people you want leading the church, because you’ll never be able to count on them.
Especially if you are helping the hurting.
Because they are depending on what you say.
And so your word is going to carry weight, a lot more weight than you think it does.
It’s going to lodge in their heart, it’s something they are going hang onto, as like a piece of hope, and that’s obviously why, you can’t have people representing the church, going out to help hurting people, and serve others, who aren’t completely sincere, with their words.
And then, Paul says, next, “they must not be addicted to much wine.”
Which I feel like should be obvious. But maybe it isn’t always.
We need leaders who are self-controlled. Who have control over their mouths first, what they say, and what they drink.
And I don’t know, but maybe, this is really a temptation when you are working with people who are hurting, or you are involved in some of the more service related areas of church life, because, there can be a lot of pressure, and so maybe, there will be some people who are tempted to look for a way out, by getting drunk, and that’s not acceptable, when it comes to leadership in the church.
A leader, can’t be the kind of person who gets drunk.
And, they can’t be greedy either.
“And they must not be greedy for dishonest gain.”
And you can see, of course, how this is going to be especially important when it comes to deacons, because they are going to be involved in a lot of the practical matters of the church, that have to do with money, and I’ll tell you what’s so sad, is that unfortunately, very often, people have used the practical problems of others, as a means of making money for themselves. I think we’ve all known people who have started NGO’s and done that, primarily for the money, and of course, it’s extremely important, that’s not happening in the church.
Which is why it’s vital we appoint leaders who are basically.
With what God’s given.
Because that’s the opposite of being greedy, really.
And, then, as we keep walking our way through this passage, we see in verse 9, there’s also actually, also doctrinal test.
“They must hold the mystery of the faith.”
And, mystery is a word Paul uses to describe the revelation we’ve received in the gospel. So he’s saying the person who is going to be a deacon must have doctrinal convictions.
He’s got to hold on to the gospel.
Which is important for us to stress, because as we are talking about doing and service, sometimes we might just think, that it doesn’t matter so much if our deacons really know God’s Word, as long as they are nice. But, biblically, in order to really lead the church, even in practical matters, we need men who know and love the truth as it is revealed in God’s Word.
And, I guess, I should emphasize love the truth, because if you look down again at verse, 9, you see it’s not just that these men can say the right things about the gospel.
Paul says they must hold the mystery of the faith, “with a clear conscience.”
Meaning, deep down, when nobody’s around, they are all about Jesus.
And, I think honestly, the church has gotten itself into trouble sometimes, because sometimes, there’s just so much need out there, it’s tempting to just send anyone who is willing to help without doing much evaluating.
And honestly especially, with the kind the work deacons have to do.
It’s not very glamorous, it’s often difficult and messy and complicated, and so, there aren’t always a lot of people who are willing or interested. And so, you know, if someone’s even a little bit interested, we’re sometimes quick to put them in a position of leadership.
This has happened, even with the church sending out missionaries.
And the church has sent out these guys who don’t really know or love the truth, or even, have a lot of wisdom, and, when they get involved in these messy, complicated, situations, they end up doing more damage than good.
That’s why Paul’s like.
No. Make sure these men really know the gospel, and believe it.
And even further, he says in verse 10.
“And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.”
Which is like wow.
There’s actually supposed to be this time, where we scrutinize these men, and make sure, they really know what they are doing, and if they pass the test, it’s only then that we appoint them to lead us as deacons.
And I guess, all I am hoping right now, is that, you are seeing this is a big deal.
Who is set apart to be a deacon in the church.
It matters who leads us.