Sunday, November 19, 2006

Caring for the Poor (11) - Qualifications of Deacons

The qualifications for the selection of deacons are listed in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. These are relevant to the nature of their work.

  1. A deacon must be a person who does not pursue dishonest gain. Because they are responsible for the money of the Church, deacons must be trustworthy. They must have proved that they can handle money wisely and responsibly.
  2. A deacon must be able to manage his household. If a man cannot manage his own household, then he will not be able to manage the finances of the Church. The elders should look at the way a person’s household is functioning for evidence that he has the ability to do the work of a deacon. However, there is another reason why household management is important. The deacon also has a teaching role. He does not just give money to the people who are poor. He also teaches them how to manage their households better, so that they can manage on their own in the future without help. A deacon could not do this unless he was skilled in managing his own household. This would mean that monetary help would always be given on a short-term basis.
  3. A deacon must also have a clear knowledge of the truths of the faith. This is because he also has an evangelistic ministry. The Christian gospel is always directed to the whole person. If a person is hungry, it is no use preaching the gospel to them, without feeding them. On the other hand, feeding a hungry person is no use without doing something about their spiritual needs. Deacons have a total ministry to the poor. As they distribute food and clothing, they will also preach the gospel. This is why they must have a good knowledge of the faith.

    Some evangelists will start their ministry as deacons. Philip and Stephen both began their service as a deacon and then went on to a successful ministry as an evangelist.
  4. People skills are more important than knowledge of finance and administration. The early Church chose deacons who were skilled in working with people.
  5. Deacons should be full of the Spirit (Acts 6:2-4). They will need the discernment and wisdom that only the Holy Spirit can give. They would have personal contact with those that they are helping, so they could quickly weed out those who were bludging. The money would go to those with genuine needs.

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