Monday, September 28, 2020

The Call to Service

"Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain" (1 Timothy 3:8)

The Greek word diakonia, from which we get the word deacon, was used in the ancient world for the work of a household servant who waited on tables. These waiters did much more than waiters today. The job involved not merely serving the meal but also arranging the house, helping the guests in any way, preparing the food, and everything else connected with any special meal.

Jesus said that among the heathen, those who rule are considered great, but that in the church, it will be those who serve others who will have His esteem (Mark 10:42–45). Indeed, Jesus Himself came “not to be served, but to serve.”

We see Abraham acting as a deacon when he prepared a meal for the three strangers who visited him in Genesis 18. We see Lot doing the same in Genesis 19. Neither knew initially whom his guests were. Picking up on these stories, Hebrews 13:2 says that we should show hospitality to all men, “for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Service is the first and foremost outward duty in the kingdom of God. There is only one thing more important, and that is to listen to the Word of God and receive it. But after we have been like Mary, and have “amened” the Word of God, we must go out and be like Martha and serve others (Luke 10:40–41). Both are critical to building the kingdom.

In Acts 6, the apostles set aside some men to “wait on tables.” This was the beginning of the New Testament diaconate. These men would not only help distribute the Lord’s Supper in worship, but outside of worship, they would oversee the care of the helpless. Because service is not a ruling function, it is also possible to have deaconesses to help women with their needs.

There are four preeminent tasks of service the New Testament identifies, and these apply not only to deacons but to all of us: feeding the hungry; housing the homeless and clothing the naked; visiting the sick and imprisoned; and caring for widows and the fatherless. According to Matthew 25:34–46, those who don’t do these things are not in the kingdom of God.

Are you involved in any of these activities? If not, you need to be. If you don’t know how to begin, get with the deacons in your church and ask them to help you get started. If they cannot help, look around for opportunities. You will find them soon enough.