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.
Hold fast. Stand firm. Follow the example of the faithful one who trained you. Timothy, follow Paul’s example. Despite his torturous condition he would not waver from the true gospel. He didn’t give in to anyone who wanted to dilute that incredible message no matter who or what challenge arose. He knew from experience the possibility that his protégé might abandoned him. Many had as I’ll look at next time. It was more dire now than ever. Paul was facing his final days and wanted to hand down the truth to be guarded against anything that might come. These are words from apostle & elder to elder. The truth is being handed down. Paul was turning over the reigns. Timothy would be the greatest carrier of his legacy. The churches who read this letter would know what Paul was saying and they’d turn to Timothy now in Paul’s absence. Timothy had to hold that truth firmly. People would try to dilute it. They would try to make it fit the culture. They would use it for their own religious power. Elders have to be committed to holding the truth firm even against internal persecution. I think what Paul was concerned about and warned Timothy of is what ended up happening to the Church which became Catholicism. No doubt there were some who held firm to the truth, but other influences gained more and more sway. The reformation was practicing this passage. It was a group of people getting back to the true and pure gospel. Today we face the prosperity gospel amongst other heresies. There are smaller deviations, too. Sometimes those can be more dangerous over time, although the prosperity gospel is wildly popular. People holding fast to the truth despite persecution from inside and out keep the Church on the right path as Jesus’ body. That’s my job here, in part. I preach the truth even if it isn’t popular. My church and I sometimes get criticism from legalistic groups. Sometimes that can even come from within. We stand firm. We consider it an affirmation that we are indeed preaching the gospel. But I need people to make sure I don’t waver and to correct me when I get it wrong. The gospel is the thing we’ve got hold tighter and more purely than anything else. Hold us fast, Lord, by Your Holy Spirit, to hold fast to the gospel.