Jump Start #3124
Jump Start # 3124
1 Timothy 3:10 “And let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.”
Our verse today is found among what is commonly called the qualifications of a deacon. Characteristics may be a better description and understanding than qualifications. Character is what a person is. It’s his spiritual DNA. Some can put on a good show and others are pretty good at telling you what you want to hear, but character is what defines you.
And, in our verse today, we have a simple reminder, before they are appointed as deacons, test them. The ESV expresses this, “…prove themselves blameless.” Now, some thoughts spring from this.
First, the proving or testing takes place before they are officially recognized as servants of the church or deacons. What a mistake it is, and I’ve seen in happen, for a church to appoint someone who is lukewarm with the hopes that now he will step it up. And if he doesn’t? The flow of our passage is that these men have proven themselves or passed the test and have shown themselves to be dependable, worthy and responsible. As hard as it is to appoint someone, it’s even harder to “unappoint” them.
Second, all of this implies that a man has shown himself to be busy, faithful, dependable and trustworthy in the kingdom. He’s proven that. He’s passed the test, we could say. Now, this implies that these men have been doing things. And, that implies that not every function, duty or task, has to be done by an official elder or deacon. If that be the case, how would anyone ever prove himself. He must be given things to do. Not everyone needs a title, and those terms are not so much titles as job descriptions. We call a painter, a painter, because he paints. A photographer, because he takes pictures. A shepherd, because he shepherds the people of God. A servant, because he serves. Teaching classes, taking care of scheduling, heading up groups, seeing after widows, paying the bills for the church, many, many ways for a man to be busy showing himself to be honest, dependable and committed.
If there is nothing for a man to do, then how can he prove himself?
Third, becoming a deacon is not climbing the ladder in the church. There are no ladders in the church. Much too often, it is viewed that deacons are junior elders or that’s the first step in becoming an elder some day. Not so. Completely different roles and different functions. The shepherds are not at the top of the pinnacle. That’s how some diagram the organization of the kingdom. Jesus-elders– deacons– members. I’ve heard people say, “I’m just a member,” as if that is a lowly peasant who doesn’t count. Some have said that deacons do physical things and elders spiritual. That’s not taught that way in the Bible. Different roles. Different functions. The Biblical diagram would be a straight horizontal line, with the shepherds leading the rest of us.
It is interesting to see that in Philippians 1, there were deacons. Yet, we know that early on, there were no church buildings. Deacons without church buildings. What did they do? Today, we’ve turned deacons into maintenance men. One has to be married, have children, be appointed, so he can change a light bulb in the church house. Really? That’s it? Could it be in the first century that the deacons had a much more spiritual role than we allow them today? Could it be that the deacons took the inspired letters from the apostles and faithfully delivered them to the churches? Could it be that the dependable deacons took money from the churches and gave it to the apostles?
The role of a deacon is a servant. A servant puts the master first. A servant pleases the master. The master is not the elders. The master is not even the church. The master is Jesus. He serves, because Jesus first served. He goes out of his way, because Jesus always went out of His way. He puts others first, because Jesus put us first. The heart of the servant is to make the kingdom the best he can and thus honor the God who is before all. Being a deacon isn’t about prestige. It’s about find a towel, getting a bowl of water, and washing the dirty feet of others. Nothing too glamorous about that. But, that’s what Jesus did. Being a deacon isn’t becoming a sergeant in the church where you can boss people around. No one bosses anyone. We lead by example. We teach by influence. We show before we tell.
Fourth, there is a bit of application in our verse for all of us. Shouldn’t each of us prove ourselves? Shouldn’t we be living in such a way that people do not have to ask if we are Christians, they know. They see it. We prove it with our words and attitudes, and that includes on social media. We prove it by our choices. We prove it by our modesty. We prove it by our seeking the kingdom first.
Dependable. Faithful. Committed. Honest. Dedicated. Loyal. Godly. Pure. Righteous. These are the things that need to be in our DNA. These are the things that people need to see in us. Around our family. Around the neighborhood. Around the office. Proven. Passed the text. We belong to Christ. We are one of His.
Our theme this year is: I am His and He is mine! How do we know that? How do others know that? Simple. It’s proven.