1 TIMOTHY 3:8-13 SERVING GOD AND NEIGHBOR
8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
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.
A deacon is traditionally one who dedicates himself to socially oriented service. While in the Church such service is manifested in the obvious roles of feeding the poor and ministering to the widows (Acts 6:1-7), we must also remember that there is an important spiritual element in serving. Jesus referred to his own role as “one who serves” (Luke 22:27) using the verb form of deacon. Additionally, the greatest social service role of the Church is to be a witness of God to the world (Genesis 12:3). Whether an overseer or one delegated to work in the Church, those in church vocations are to be chosen for their faithfulness to God and love for people.
Particularly since the Protestant Reformation in the West we have understood the service of witness to be the call of all members of the Church, and not just of those in vocations. Therefore, the qualities enumerated for deacons are those which all of us need to develop and demonstrate. If we are to accurately witness to God and not lead others astray, we must be well schooled in the faith through dedication to the Scriptures and be disciplined in their application to our lives. That discipline needs to be demonstrated through self-control in all aspects of our lives. Our attitude is to be one of love that manifests as concern for others exercised with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Our goal for this life is not to be based on the things of this world but on the word of God. Our faithfulness to God is to be demonstrated in our lives through our monogamous relationship with our spouses. Our respect for God’s order and authority is to be exercised with love in our families. A life lived with such qualities will gain respect for the individual, and more importantly will earn that individual a hearing with others whether they are in the church or not. This will not only render the individual more effective for the kingdom, but also be the source of growth in his understanding of God and the incredible love poured out on us through Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus, as you came to serve and not be served, may I mature into your faithful servant and be an effective servant for the kingdom in this world. I begin by confessing and repenting of my self-centeredness and lack of self control. Aid me in the development of the discipline of Scripture study and prayer. Empower me to be faithful in my relationships and treat others, especially those with whom I disagree, with gentleness and respect. Most of all, Lord, make me a fruitful servant of God. Amen.