Paul’s charge to Timothy this time bears more weight. He’s about to die. He’s passing on the reigns of ministry to Timothy in what could very well be his final words to his beloved protégé. Paul said “but you” to Timothy several times and along the way we get the impression he’s contrasting what Timothy should do with what the false teachers were doing, and that is what Paul was saying, but he’s also probably contrasting to himself since he won’t be able to continue. He had poured out his life for the gospel and was quite literally about to empty that drink. I don’t get the impression that it bothered him. I think he really, truly believed that “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I think he was ready, even longing to receive his reward. He wasn’t worried about anything. He trusted Jesus’ salvation and was proud of how he’d served since the time he was called. He stayed faithful through an onslaught persecution from worldly people, unseen spiritual warfare, fellow Jews, and even people claiming to be believers. He battled nature and overcame. He never lost his faith. He never stopped ministering. He never quit fighting the good fight. He didn’t give in. And that’s not just pride of looking back on his life, it’s a message to Timothy to live the same way. He’s encouraging his protégé to fight and run just as hard and faithfully. This is a beautiful final letter from mentor to protégé. He’s handing over the reigns of ministry. What an honor! That’s how I’d love to go out. Run hard, prepare someone else to take my place, then hand it over at the right time. Then receive the reward Jesus earned for me. There’s no greater end than that. Death here, suffering here all fades away in light of the reward of being with the Tri-une God eternally with no more sin, pain, death, or sadness. Father, by Your Holy Spirit, fix my eyes on the prize. Fix my eyes on Jesus!
Diakonosmeanshumble servant and we translate it asdeacon.Particularly for we Baptist, but for more stringent congregationalist churches in general, we’ve made the deacon role something it was not intended to be. Deacons serve underthe elders’ oversight, not above them. In the Baptist world, the senior pastor is viewed, in the Biblical translation at least, as interchangeable with the elder or overseer. Practically that hasn’t been how many churches have treated the role. The pastor is an employee of the church who report first to deacons rather than the under-shepherd serving under Christ. The deacons often rule over the pastor, and that is not biblical. Deacons are to carry out assigned duties in the church to free the elders up to focus on what they need to do as modeled in Acts 6. Really, many church staff and a lot of volunteer leaders are deacons in this sense and deacons tend to operate more like elders. This list really applies to all church leadership roles. Deacons must be dignified or respectable. People see them as leaders in the church and their character should reflect such as it reflects on the LORD and His Church. The BKC says they should not be clowns. I like a good clown, but there is a time to be silly and a time to be more dignified. The next requirement is that they be me dilogousor literally not double-tongued. I like the NET translation, not two-face. Ooh that is such a hurtful and dangerous trait for anyone in a church, particularly someone in leadership. Leaders must be trustworthy. They can’t present one face to some and another to others. They can’t say one thing to one group and something totally different to others. I’ve been hurt by that to the core. It’s like being stabbed in the back. Another interpretation is sincere and unhypocritical. It’s easy to talk about what Scripture teaches and apply that to others, but it can be another thing to live it out when tested yourself. Deacons should do both. Deacons also shouldn’t be drunks and shouldn’t engage in any dishonest means of financial or other gain. That goes along with being respectable and having integrity. These are really just a list of Christian characteristics. It’s modeling the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We just have to be extra sure people in leadership exhibit those traits.
So what’s the antithesis of that worldly way of thinking? How do you combat that lifestyle? Be self-controlled. That’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Endure hardship, and there will be plenty in ministry. Self-control helps to endure. It goes along with patience and faithfulness which are also Holy Spirit fruit. Evangelize at every opportunity. I pray for those opportunities constantly. Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing them. It seems about everyone I run into here is a Christian. That’s a good chunk of the great commission. Carry out the ministry to which I am called. It’s the same root as deacon, having to do with voluntary service. I’ll serve somewhere, somehow, whether paid or not. Sometimes I wonder about endurance. My faith endures. I am staying faithful to ministry in general and don’t see that changing even if it somehow becomes all volunteer. I question myself sometimes after leaving GBC. Should I have just endured the hardship? But things tend to pop up to affirm how I left and why. I’d go back if called, if we could do the tough work together to get things right. I’m not giving up. I’m pursuing new ministry opportunities and wiser about what to choose and what to let pass me by. I pray the Lord makes it clear and grants more opportunities to share the gospel and gives me boldness to do so. That prayer yielded a bit of an opportunity at Thanksgiving and I pray that will go further.