Saturday, November 18, 2006

Caring for the Poor (10) - First Deacons

The ministry of the deacon is the important for the care of the poor. In the New Testament, deacons were the social “welfare arm” of the Church. The record of the appointment of the first deacons is in Acts 6. Men like Barnabas, when called to a Christian ministry, had sold their property and "brought the money and laid it at the apostles feet". The twelve used this money to provide for those in need.

When the number of disciples had increased, some of the Grecian Jews complained because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and of wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:2-4).
This proposal pleased the whole group so they appointed seven men who were full of the Spirit. They presented these men to the apostles who laid hands on them. The result was that the word of God spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly.

The deacons were responsible for the offerings of the Church. They used them to provide for the needs of the poor and the sick. In doing this they were fulfilling the parable of the Good Samaritan. When he found a person in trouble, he took action to meet the immediate need. He then took further action to find a permanent solution, taking responsibility for the cost himself. This is a good pattern for the ministry of a deacon.

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