Qualifications Pt. 5
1 Timothy 3:12
Sorry about the layoff. I know that you probably think that pastors only work on Sundays and Mondays and the rest of the time is spent on the golf course, but I never had time to learn the game. Don’t get me wrong – I do get time off, but there are those weeks when it seems like you never get a break. Anyway, I am back on track – for now – so let’s get back to the deacons!
Actually, we never really left that topic, but in this particular verse, Paul continued to list the qualifications of the kind of godly men who should choose to serve in the church. Understand that there are often godly men who do not choose to serve as a deacon and are not called into the role. That is okay. However, if God calls a man to serve and he refuses, that’s when he has a problem. Any Christian who rejects God’s call is bound for trouble. So listen to the voice of God, and life will be so much better.
Paul said that, like the pastor, the deacon is to be “the husband of one wife….” Let me refresh your
memory about the possible meanings of that statement because it is the same requirement given for
pastors. There are five basic interpretations of this four-word qualification. Count them: 1) faithful to
his one wife; 2) married to one wife at a time; 3) married once and never remarried; 4) never
divorced; 5) must not be single.
As I said before, I don’t think that Paul was dealing specifically with marital status. I believe he was dealing with moral and sexual purity. We have seen it too many times, so we know that this is the area where Christian leaders are prone to fail. From big-named preachers to pastors of small local churches, most of us know the names of men who did not remain above reproach because they gave in to sexual temptation. Deacons are no different. So let me give you my take on this qualification. Simply put, the deacon must be a one-woman man, totally devoted to his wife, maintaining that singular affection and sexual purity in both thought and deed. You see, he must be an example to the world, so he must model what marital fidelity is all about. Even in the most difficult of times, he must persevere.
Much has been said about this issue. Questions are always asked, and, even now, as Southside begins the process of electing deacons, this qualification has come into play. Let me be honest. I have seen men who were divorced – some once, some more than once – who have been more faithful in ministry than many of the deacons I have served with. Because of the rules specifically instituted in the church, these men could not be elected as deacons. So I told these men that it is the work that is important – not the title. And while I believe that our actions do result in consequences including disqualifying us from service, I also believe that every individual must be examined based on his situation. For example, if his disqualifying actions took place prior to salvation and he has proven himself to be a one-woman kind of man for years after his conversion, why shouldn’t he be allowed to serve? However, we must not be too hasty to place a man in this position regardless of his circumstances because it is one of the most important decisions that the church will ever make.