Okay, giving myself a bit of freedom this morning to springboard from the primary context to make a wider application. Taking a specific observation and suggesting a broader principle. That serving others, while benefiting others, benefits the server as well.
For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
(1Timothy 3:13 ESV)
The context is qualifications for those who would hold the office of deacon within the church. Qualifications very similar to the qualifications listed for those being drawn to oversee, or pastor, the church.
The specific observation that arrests me this morning is that those who serve well as deacons “gain a good standing” and “great confidence” through serving. Faithful servants of the church are noted, respected, and esteemed. Faithful service for the church begets greater confidence within a deacon concerning what they believe because, I’m thinking, they experience the reality of the enabling power through Whom they believe. Thus deacons who serve well grow well. We shouldn’t be surprised when those who are faithful with little are entrusted with much and are emboldened to take on more (Matt. 25:21).
True of deacons, says Paul. True, I want to suggest, of all who serve.
There’s no special word for the office of deacon, it’s defined solely by context. The word for deacon is the same word used for servant and serving. Thus, a literal translation of this verse could be, “Those who serve well serving gain . . . ” So, to serve is to gain.
A faithful sister, willing to serve as able every Sunday morning — whether during the service she attends or the one she doesn’t — once put it this way, “Serving isn’t about providing an experience, it is the experience.” It’s not just about doing your part for others, it’s about availing yourself of God doing His work in you. Beyond just completing a task it’s walking in the way of the kingdom. Less about doing a job, more about imitating Jesus.
“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” ~ Jesus
(Mark 10:43b-45 ESV)
Those who serve well as servants grow well. Those who find joy in doing for others, flourish. Those who think no task too small in order to benefit the body, thrive.
Not that we would do just to get. But that we would recognize that one avenue of sanctifying grace is through faithful service. That transformation comes from taking on tasks. That as we model Christ, Christ in us molds us to be more like Himself. And so, serving others well isn’t just about providing an experience for them, it is experiencing a kingdom dynamic within us.
To serve is to gain.
Because of grace. For His glory.