As a church of Christ, we are still in the process of officer nominations for the year 2010. God’s Word makes it clear that we want men after God’s own heart leading us in faithfulness to the Lord. We want men who by God’s grace have God’s glory and our good on their mind and heart. God has graciously given His Church two offices of authority, which coincide with the Word and deed ministry of Jesus. We’ve considered already the first of these two offices — the office of elder or overseer or shepherd. We come now to learn what God says about the second office — the office of deacon or servant. In order to know what kind of men you should nominate and elect, I want to take you to a portion of God’s Word that speaks to the character of the deacon. In this first article on the office of deacon, let me give you an introduction to the passage before us.
Humility is an essential quality for all God’s people, but it is especially needed for those men who would be called to the office of deacon. The Bible is full of passages that remind us that humility is always better than pride. Those who are made humble rightly recognize who they are before their Creator. It is a recognition that all God’s people are to have. God loves and gives grace to the humble; yet, he opposes the proud.
Unfortunately, the Church must swim against the strong current within our culture that threatens to pull us out to sea. The culture around us constantly promotes the message of “self first.” The message is quite clear on billboards or television or radio or magazines or books or advertisements. We don’t have to look very hard to realize that the world is always promoting self-satisfaction. We live in a world where athletes stand over someone gloating after they have dunked the ball, or point a finger in that person’s face whom they just humiliated, or do a special dance after scoring a touchdown or goal. The emphasis is for the crowds and the defeated to take notice of true greatness. And if we are honest with ourselves, we all have that same thought from time to time. We are always trying to outperform someone else. We all want the world to think of us as great. Maybe we want the best house on the block or the best clothes or the best car or the best looking lawn or the prettiest wife or the biggest church. We all at some time have been caught up in thoughts of greatness.
We are not too different than Christ’s first disciples. They had gotten into an argument over who was the greatest disciple. You can almost smell the testosterone oozing out of these men as they get caught up in the thought of greatness. And Jesus, who knew their thoughts, asked them what they were discussing. After they did not answer Him, Jesus called them together and reminded them of a very important lesson for all those who would follow Him:
If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all… (Mark 9:35).
And you’ll remember later before Jesus’ death He taught His disciples a valuable lesson by way of teaching and example. He did what only the lowliest of servants did in those days. Jesus, the one whom no man was even worthy to untie the strap of His sandals, took the sandals off His disciples and began washing their feet… those sweaty, stinky feet! The point He was teaching them was that they were to be servants of one another. They were not greater than their Master, their Lord and teacher. He had given them an example to follow. Jesus was the very picture of a humble servant of God. He teaches us that serving is a matter of humility. The apostle Paul exhorted the Philippian Christians to imitate Christ’s humble servanthood:
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)
Jesus came to serve and not to be served. Therefore, those who would follow Jesus must have the same heart and goal. Therefore, especially should those who are going to be ordained to the office of deacon be characterized by being humble servants. So deacons are to be examples to the flock of what the humble servanthood of Jesus looks like! That is quite a task. And it is just as important as being a humble Shepherd of the flock! Luke makes it clear in this portion of the book of Acts that deacons must be men after God’s own heart. Christ Jesus humbly served the Father and the Church, submitted to the Father, and supported the advancement of the Kingdom. So, too, must deacons today be Godly servants who humbly serve, humbly submit, and humbly support. Pray for your current deacons in their work of service and their call to cultivate among us a love for one another. And pray for future deacons that God might raise up to humbly serve for the glory of God and the good of the Church.
Soli Deo Gloria!