A Sermon (# 537) Preached by William “Bill” Touchton
Edited by Michael D. Lawson
If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Acts, chapter 6.
In a couple of weeks, we are going to ordain three men to help us serve, and we may install a fourth man who has already been ordained. And beginning a week from Sunday, I am going to start a series on Sunday nights that deals with spiritual leadership. And for a few weeks, we are going to look at what the pastor ought to be – and what the deacons ought to be, and when I get to that point, I want to come back to this chapter because it lays the ground work for spiritual leadership. So, I’ll try not to use everything I’ve learned tonight, but in two or there weeks when you hear me preach this passage again – if I say something you have already heard, then smile like you have never heard it before.
Verse 1 – “murmuring” – the word means to grumble. Because their widows were neglected (overlooked) in the daily ministration…this word is the word, diakonia, it means service, or to deacon, to minister.
In the first century, the Jews had a custom on Fridays where the priest would go around and collect money and goods and then distribute it to the poor. to those with a temporary need, they would give enough for the day, and for those in great need, they would give them 14 meals, two meals a day for a week.
Now when the church came along, they extended it to an every day practice.
Now they had experienced supernatural growth and somehow in this daily ministry, the widows of the Greeks were overlooked.
Verse 2 – “reason” – means ‘fitting’.
“serve” – literally means to wait on tables.
“diakoneo” – means deacon, or to serve. The same word is found in 1 Timothy 3.10, “let them first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon.”
Now watch, they were not saying that this ministry was not important, but that what they did should not be neglected. In other words, there needs to be a division of service. Some people minster with the Word, some people minster with service.
The most important thing I do is minister in Word and prayer.
That’s why I’ve developed the habit of working from home on Fridays, so that I can concentrate on these two aspects of leading the church – Word and prayer.
Verse 3-7 – “honest report” – a summary of the deacon’s character. It means these mean had a good testimony. In our church, I think this describes a man like Randy. Wherever Randy goes, people know he’s a Christian – at work – in the community.
“full” – means controlled by, or covered over with the Holy Spirit and wisdom. In other words, a deacon has the mind of God. He thinks like God.
There is a practice in a baptist church that says: a school leader makes a good Sunday School leader. A banker or wealthy man makes for good finance people. A contractor makes a good buildings and grounds guy. And they may – if they are filled with the Spirit and know the mind of God. But if not, they can do more harm than good.
The qualification is not what they know, or what they do, but do they know God and can they discern God’s will.
“appoint” – means to ordain, or to place down. Someone we can count on. Listen, ordination is special because it says we can count on you.
“business” – means requirement.
Some people think you should have seven deacons, but the number means “completeness”, each church should have the number it needs to serve effectively.
Now watch, this was a humbling honor. it was an honor to be called by the church, but it was humbling because they called them literally to wait on others. They called them to do the things that no one else would do.
Spiritual leaders have a two-fold mission:
My job description calls for me to minister in the word and prayer, and as I do that, other things are neglected. Therefore, we call (appoint), we ordain others to pickup the slack in the area of ministry and service.
Most churches have made superstars out of them. God made them servants.
I was speaking to a lady the other day, her husband is the chairman of deacons at their church. As a service to his church, he regularly assumes the responsibility for taking out the garbage.
The other day, Gloria came to me and said, “I need some extended session workers.” I’ve told her I’ve got four deacons, plus 3 more. That’s 7. Plus 6 wives. That’ll make 13. How many more do you need?
Verse 4 – “give” – as in to persevere, to give our best to.
Verse 5 – “pleased the whole multitude” – I wish that were true today. Some are pleased to allow the pastor to do it all, Others are never pleased, no matter what the church decides to do over different things.
Listen, it’s often easier to do something, that it is to pray and study.
Verse 6 – “laid hands on” – means to confer power, to identify.
As you think about these seven men, you only read of two. Stephen could preach. Phillip was an evangelist. The rest were behind the scenes guys.
Some people say deacons ought to teach, but that’s not necessary (that would be the office of elder). Deacons serve.