In 1st Timothy 3:1-12 is a passage with as much authority as any other in the entire Bible. There are two very important words used by the Apostle Paul from God’s Spirit in these lists describing Elders & Deacons. The word “MUST”, in v2, and also the word “LIKEWISE” in v8. They reflect the seriousness of God’s will in these lists. They make the descriptions actual requirements before the office is appointed to any man. Why are these lists to be used as requirements? Because “must” & “likewise” necessitate accountability. When problems arise in any service, no Elder, Deacon or Evangelist should be able to say, “sorry, but I’m not qualified to do the job, so don’t blame me for at least trying”. If a congregation requires men to meet these descriptions, the congregation has the right to get answers when things go wrong.
You might be asking, ‘but where is the willingness to forgive in all this’? Forgiveness is always desired and indeed can be experienced when anything goes wrong with a ministry, but forgiveness does not mean we do not get answers. When a person says sorry, it’s not genuine unless the person gives admission and at least gives reasonable explanation for trying to prevent it from happening again. The whole reason Jesus teaches forgiveness is for all of us to have an equal footing for growth. We are all sinners and should live a life of repentance. Read Matthew 18:15-22 and ask yourself this question, “Would forgiveness be experienced In the binding and loosening of the conversation between the offender & offended?” Yes indeed, because that conversation is where both people realize their battle against sin needs actions based on promises to prevent it from happening again. No matter how many times it happens, we must always try to reach forgiveness. Seventy times seven means we never stop trying to forgive. Without offering forgiveness, no one can learn to grow in righteousness and overcome evil in our life.
With this determined desire to hold the office of a Deacon, let us hold each description as a requirement.
Deacons are to be of good character, and not two-faced – HONESTY
Not addicted to alcohol – SELF-DISCIPLINED
They are not to use shameful ways to make money – JUST
They have clear consciences about possessing the mystery of the faith – DIVINE PURPOSE
They are to be evaluated with a proven good reputation – EXPERIENCED
Their wives should also be of good character, not gossiping – (EXEMPLARY IN LOVE)
Their wives should control their tempers and be trustworthy in every way. (EXEMPLARY IN SUPPORT)
He has only one wife & manages their children well. (EXEMPLARY IN TRAINING)
Perhaps the most peculiar requirement concerns possessing the mystery of the faith. This is a reference to the whole point of the gospel. The mystery is revealed so clearly in Ephesians 3:4-6. Where God proclaims that both Jew & Gentile are co-heirs in Christ, being equal members of the same body. The gospel of Christ’s forgiveness is to be shown in our work, by treating each person as an equal. This is how the ministry of a Deacon started in Acts 6, when the quarrel between Hebrew & Hellenist Christians began. The fair distribution of God’s grace towards all widows was hard work. Herein we need Deacons, so let us appoint men who want to prove the grace of God in meeting people’s needs regardless of who they are. Never let anyone say of any congregation that there is even a hint of prejudice among us. God is love and let us prove it in our leadership that can set a Biblical example for everyone.