Friday in the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Timothy 3:8-10

Qualifications for Deacons

“Deacon” is the second office our Lord has instituted for the good order of his Church.  It differs from the office of bishop in that it is not a “teaching” office.  This, of course, does not mean that deacons can’t teach, but only that teaching is especially the pastor’s task.  The primary task of the deacon is service to the church, serving being the primary meaning of the Greek word for deacon (literally, “waiting on tables,” Acts 6:2).  In the early Church, this primarily concerned meeting the basic needs of widows and orphans and the poor.  This was often seen to in the dispensing of provisions to these people upon the end of the communion service. 

Like the office of bishop, not just anyone can be a deacon.  A man must be tested and meet certain qualifications.  The deacon must be “dignified.”  The sense is that one must be noble and highly esteemed and respected, giving himself to spiritual matters and not the cheap and tawdry (Mounce, WBC, 198-99).  He must not be “double-tongued,” which carries with it the idea of repeating matters, not keeping secrets, and telling one person one thing and another something else.  As our Lord said, a believer’s yes should be yes and his no a no (Matthew 5:37).  Like the overseer, the deacon too must guard himself against wine and gain.  Money and alcohol are not evil in themselves but according to their use, our sinful natures being such that we are always perverting the good gifts God provides for us. 

Paul adds, “They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.”  He wrote at the beginning of this letter, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”  A clear and good conscience springs only from a life lived in obedience to the gospel.  If a man is living in secret sin, his ministry will be hampered while his faith is impeded.  It is a clear conscience to which Paul appeals to Timothy when he urges, indeed begs, him “to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (6:14).  For this reason, such men must first be tested, and Timothy must be deliberate in setting apart men to such divine service (5:22). 

A clear conscience.  How necessary this is for any Christian to serve.  Willful sin holds us back.  The Holy Spirit will not give us relief until such sin is confessed and given over to the only One who can conquer Satan’s strongholds within us.  Otherwise we limp throughout life.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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