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Sometimes we speak of the office of deacon as if it were an inferior work, only a stepping-stone to greater things. But it is a mistake for us to think of those who serve as deacons as men not quite mature enough to be elders. Similarly, we ought not to relegate the office simply to those who are "on their way up" to becoming elders, as if the work were simply a preliminary work. The work of the deacon is important in its own right, and we need to view the office in a better light.
In truth, deacons are given to help us in the Lord's work. The responsibility is a vital part of what has been provided to make the church strong and effective in its work. We cannot neglect this office or diminish its importance without hurting ourselves in regard to the work of the gospel.
It is true, the work of deacons is subordinate to that of elders, and in our power-hungry culture "subordinate" is often equated with "inferior." But that is not true in the New Testament. If being subordinate makes one inferior, then the Son of God is inferior to God the Father.
The word "deacon" simply means "servant." Deacons are men who meet certain scriptural qualifications (1 Tim. 3:8-13) and are appointed to the work of serving the congregation in its various needs (Ac. 6:1-7). The work of the deacon is one of two appointed offices in the local congregation. The apostle Paul addressed the Philippian letter to "all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons" (Phil. 1:1). To Timothy, Paul wrote that "those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 3:13).
It takes a special person to allow himself to be designated as a servant to his brethren, and to carry out the service assigned to him in a hard-working, responsible way. Perhaps in no other part of the Lord's work is the servant attitude of the Christian more important. Those who do this work well ought to receive our appreciation and cooperation. Let's renew our gratitude for those who serve us as deacons, making this a week of meditation on this important aspect of the Lord's church. And let's make our gratitude known not only to the Lord, but to the men themselves.
Monday: Acts 6:1-7
Key Idea: Deacons are appointed to take care of certain responsibilities for their brethren.
Questions for Family Growth: What work in the church in Jerusalem needed to be taken care of by some special servants appointed specifically for that purpose? In vv.2,4, why did the apostles say it would be good for them to be relieved of this work?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 16:10-15.
Tuesday: Mark 9:33-37
Key Idea: In Jesus Christ, serving and helping others is an honor.
Questions for Family Growth: In this text, what was it that the disciples were arguing about? What did Jesus say about the way to true greatness? How do we show that we have the right attitude about rendering service to others?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 16:16.
Wednesday: Philippians 1:1,2
Key Idea: Deacons were a part of the scriptural organization of congregations in the New Testament.
Questions for Family Growth: To whom did Paul address the Philippian letter? Who are the "saints"? The "bishops" or "overseers"? The "deacons"? What are some examples of responsibilities that might be delegated to deacons in the church?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 16:17.
Thursday: 1 Timothy 3:8-13
Key Idea: Christian men must have certain scriptural qualifications in order to serve as deacons.
Questions for Family Growth: What do each of the qualifications (i.e., required characteristics) of deacons mean? In v.10, what does "blameless" mean? In v.13, what does Paul say those who have served well as deacons gain for themselves?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 16:18,19.
Friday: 1 Corinthians 15:58
Key Idea: Working together, with the help of our deacons, we should abound in the Lord's work.
Questions for Family Growth: What do the words "steadfast" and "immovable" mean? What does it mean that our work in the Lord is "not in vain"? In practical terms, what are some ways that we can "abound" in the Lord's work?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 16:20.