6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.
This section is a continuation of Paul giving Timothy instructions about what kind of guys to put in charge of the churches they are starting. It’s hard work so Paul gives Timothy a good long list of criteria.
Some of the details are more obvious than others. Some of the details are obviously more of a deal-breaker than others.
You also have to read this list in the context of the whole Bible. You can see that in some cases, this is not so much as picking somebody that is a good leader or not, but picking leaders for the sake of not destroying the leaders that you pick!
If someone is a new convert, they have all of the fullness of the Holy Spirit as someone who has been pursuing the Lord for 50 years. That’s not the question here. The point is to work with people so that they aren’t overly tempted or distracted. Some people are really good at praying out loud in front of a lot of people. If that came from spiritual maturity and growth in the Lord, then when they are complimented on it, the glory goes straight to the Lord.
If they are a good public prayer because they are a professional public speaker and have been trained in all of the persuasive and public rhetorical arts, the compliment about their wonderful prayer is just going to build up their pride in their skills.
Paul wants to avoid that. This is the same guy that talked about God’s strength perfected in weakness, right?
Deacons are not positions of authority as much as they are servants entrusted with the Truth. They are kind of like the men that Moses appointed to help settle disputes and serve the masses so that he could focus on talking to God more.
If you’re going to have a lot of guys serving the people, they need to be men you can trust! If they are double-tongued, corrupt, drunk, greedy, manipulative, and worse, the people aren’t going to be served by them very well, are they?
The prove themselves first bit even happens today. When we nominate elders or introduce a small-group leader, plenty of people already know the person. When they are given a project or some authority, it is no surprise. We already know that person is perfect for that job and we’ve already seen how well they do in such cases.
So much of this applies to the normal Christian life. If you want to be given authority and responsibility, serve! Jesus didn’t design it all for us to lord our power over one another, but to give care under one another to build up the church. That is the way it all works at its best.
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