40 Days of study

A human being lives, but he is given life.

1 Timothy 3:8-14

 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 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, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

12 A deacon must be faithful to his 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.

My Thoughts:

Servants with Character (1 Timothy 3:8-12)

Just like with Elders, those who serve as deacons must serve with integrity.

As we look in Paul moves in to (v. 8). Paul mentions “deacons.” The Greek word Paul uses here is simply means “servant” or “minister.” Now what kind of character is Paul talking about for those who serve in ministry?  Look again at (vv. 8-12).

Like those who lead, those who serve in ministry must have good character. Again, this isn’t perfection or even near perfection, but the person must have high moral standards combined with honesty about one’s shortcomings. As part of this character, Paul mentions several of the same things he mentioned with elders, things like moderation with alcohol and financial integrity.

Paul also mentions keeping hold of the faith with a clear conscience literally, “the faith,” that is, the whole body of Christian teaching. The deacon is to be not only a well-informed Bible student but also one who reflects the principles of the Bible. To me he is up holding our doctrinal integrity in and out of the church setting.

Here is one clear difference in qualifications between those who lead and those who serve. Those who lead must not only know about our beliefs, but they also have to be able to instruct others in it and bring correction to those teaching false doctrine but those who serve are simply required to hold to the Christian faith with a clear conscience. In other words, these people don’t have any reservations about our doctrinal statement and mission as a church. They aren’t necessarily able to defend the Christian faith against false claims or even to teach, but the hold to it with a clear conscience.

Finally, Paul mentions “family integrity”.

Not only is it important for those who lead us in the Christian community to lead with integrity, but those who serve must also serve with integrity. This is just as much a part of authentic Christian community as character in leadership is. When the non-Christian community sees people who serve in their church but who willfully disregard the teachings of Jesus in their jobs or in their marriages, cannot help but turn away. 1 Timothy 3:13 says “13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Those who serve with integrity as leaders and as servants in the church will gain “a good standing.” How our leaders lead and how our servants serve either builds or tears down our congregation’s reputation in the community.

Now why is Paul concerned with the church’s reputation? We find that out when Paul says those who lead and serve with integrity also gain “boldness” in their faith. We find that integrity is so important and character still counts. When our Christian community has integrity, our message has credibility. The credibility of our message is directly connected to the integrity of our leaders and the integrity of our servants. And for people in the twenty-first century, the church lacks credibility.

Could it be that this is the backlash of years and years of pastors getting busted for prostitution, stealing, not to mention the pastors that drive Rolls Royces and still ask people to send them monies?

Ellen White statement:

Ellen White in {GW p.81}

God does not desire wooden men to guard the interests of his institutions and the church, but he wants living, working men,— men who have ability and quick perception, men who have eyes, and open them that they may see, and hearts that are susceptible to the influences of his Spirit. He holds men to a strict accountability in guarding the interests of his cause. . . .

Last thoughts:

There’s also a promise contained in these words:

A church with leaders who have integrity and servants who have integrity has credibility to share the good news with its community. We see that “character” still really does count.

We all struggle with things in our lives that are self-destructive, things that hurt those around us, things that displease God. When we pretend to be anything other than fellow strugglers, all we succeed in doing is confirming our culture’s belief that Christians are hypocrites.

The kind of character that still counts is integrity. Integrity is high moral standards combined with brutal honesty about where we’re still falling short. A dose of integrity is what I nation and our culture could use.

I have one more quote from Gandhi today “Before the throne of the Almighty, man will be judged not by his acts but by his intentions. For God alone reads our hearts.”

Just a few weeks ago Maria and I were watching a movie about the life of “Gandhi” watching it reminded me of a quote of his about Christians. “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

About bobh6

I am Seventh-day Adventist pastor in the Texas Panhandle

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This entry was posted on March 27, 2013 by in 1 Timothy, Paul's letters, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .

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March 2013
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