Acts Devotionals

The Service of Deacons

You have heard it said … “Behind every good man is a good woman.” Note that I don’t ascribe anything good to myself … but if I achieved anything good for God it is because I had a good woman behind, with me and next to me. Christian Ministry is very different to being in business. Sometimes when husbands and wives work together they may fight and argue about the work until the heat is felt by other staff members.

Yesterday I bought a vehicle. I need to find work and without transport it is difficult because we live 20 minutes away from Greenville in one direction and 20 minutes away from Spartanburg in the other direction. The law states that you cannot drive a car off the dealership’s lot unless you have an insurance. If a police officer stops you he or she will ask for your driver’s license and insurance. So, we went to an agent of an Insurance Company. The “agent” has a few people working for him … one being his wife. What struck me was her personality, character and presentation of herself and the business. I did not meet her husband but the way she worked with the office manager and us, it showed me she was a good woman … one worthy of respect.

In Christian ministry there are many occasions when a pastor’s wife or that of the elders or deacons are not worthy of respect. Sometimes such wives divorce themselves from their husband’s ministry … and often they don’t even attend Church. The Biblical position is different!

1Ti 3:11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

1) The text implies that should the wife not be a woman worthy of respect, her husband may not serve as a deacon. What does this imply?

(1) She must not be a malicious talker. She must not speak badly about the people her husband is to serve. Gossiping is not allowed. She must be a woman who speaks words of encouragement, seeking to help, not words that destroy.

(2) She must be trustworthy. That might sound easy … but the text goes on to say “in everything”. Although some ministries require confidentiality, others do not. As an example, if the deacon is the Church Treasurer, the wife might by accident come across a printout of those who tithe. It could be quite innocent … but she may not divulge what she sees. She might see what the pastor’s salary and perks are. She may not tell others about it. Should she fail on these two matters she will not be worthy of respect and her husband might need to step down as the deacon over the finances of the Church.

2) A deacon may only have one wife … A deacon must be the husband of but one wife. The text may be referring to polygamy. We know it is outlawed by Scripture … so what would be in Paul’s mind?

(a) He may not be polygamous.

(b) He may be a deacon if he is not married.

(c) The text means … he may only have one wife at a time. This means that should his wife die, he may remarry and will not forfeit his position as deacon.

3) He must be a good manager of his family and household. Many men do not realize that it is the father’s duty and responsibility to raise the children! If he is the head of the home, he must raise the children. As long as they are under his roof he is responsible and accountable to God for them, their spirituality and behavior. Before you ask whether I have lost it … he needs to delicate various responsibilities to the wife … such as being responsible when he is away at work … but ultimate responsibility is his. He may not offload this on his wife or relinquish his role. (This includes a man, who for whatever reason is divorced.) Then he needs to manage his household well. This includes the accommodation, finances, provision for the family (clothing, food, education, etc.) as well as any staff he employs (domestic worker, gardener). He needs to love his wife sacrificially, as Christ loved the Church … and he needs to love his children in the same way. How can a deacon who does not manage his wife, children and household properly manage the House of God?

4) The blessings and rewards of faithful ministry:

1Ti 3:13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

(1) In the Greek mind, serving was not dignified, yet ruling was. In the Jewish mind, there is nothing wrong with serving because the idea of serving is born out of service to God. The second table of the Ten Commandments, called by Jesus “the second greatest Commandment”, focuses on serving others. Maybe Paul, under inspiration has both ideas in mind … undignified because the deacon serves his family and the Church family for God as a slave, yet dignified because God requires he serves others to bring glory to God. We know this is counter to the ways of the world, but God’s ways are so different to the world’s ways. The world sees “ruling” as something esteemed, yet God sees servanthood as esteemed. The deacon is to honor God, not the world!

(2) Service that glorifies God yields two blessings. Before that, look at the word “gain”. This word comes from a root for buried or covered. It seems as though “gain” includes growth, development and fruits. The picture of a deacon serving well grows and develops in his ministry and bears fruits. The first blessing is that of an excellent standing. Terms describing this quality are beautiful in appearance and morally good. The term “sterling” is also included. His standing for such developed and great service within the Kingdom gains him a good standing with both the Church and the God of the Church. The second blessing in that of great assurance. Behind “great” is “uncountable”. The assurance is so huge that there is total confidence in his freedom in Jesus, because of the faith the Holy Spirit has enabled, resulting is salvation.

Now we are able to see what the specific qualifications of a deacon are … one who manages tables … that is, one who cares for the practical aspects of both the membership and the property of the Church. Why did we study about the deacon? Because sometimes, deacons become elders.

Father, bless the Church’s Leadership. Help them to serve You faithfully as they care for Your Kingdom here on earth. Amen.

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