DEACONS AND DEACONESSES
There is also something concerning the deacons in these two books. First Timothy 3:8 says, “Deacons must similarly be grave, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not seeking gain by base means.” The first virtue that the deacons should have is to be grave. This means to be weighty and not so light. We all need to be grave in what we say and do. There must be some weight in everything we express. And we should not be double-tongued. This really calls for the humanity of Jesus.
Then Paul mentions something about the wives or deaconesses. “Women similarly must be grave, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things” (1 Tim. 3:11). Not only must the brothers who are the serving ones be grave, but also the sisters. They must be weighty and not slanderers. To slander is to say something in a light way. Our mouths should not be shut in the meetings; neither should they be too open in our talking. If we are too free in our talking, spontaneously we may slander or speak lightly of others. The Lord Jesus never slandered. He never spoke anything lightly. We do need the humanity of Jesus.
ALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Not only must the deacons and the deaconesses have these virtues, but so must all the brothers and sisters. Paul says, “I will therefore that men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and reasoning” (1 Tim. 2:8). Wherever we have wrath or reasoning, we are finished as far as prayer is concerned. When we turn away from wrath and give up all our reasoning, then we are ready to pray. But we cannot do this by ourselves. We need the Lord Jesus in our spirit to be our humanity. Then we will have the proper church service.
This brings us to 1 Timothy 2:9-10. These verses are for the sisters. “Similarly, that women adorn themselves in proper clothing with modesty and sobriety, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly clothing; but, what befits women professing godly reverence, by good works.” The sisters must adorn themselves in proper clothing. The Greek word for proper means that which is arranged in a befitting way. Everything is very well arranged. Today we have two extremes. Some women need two or three hours to dress—that is one extreme. The other is that some do not care for their appearance at all. They dress in a sloppy way. The proper humanity is lacking in both extremes. Neither way of dress is arranged in a suitable way. For this reason Paul says that the women should adorn themselves in proper clothing with modesty.
The King James Version uses “shamefacedness” for “modesty.” It really means to have a sense of shame. Sisters need to have such a sense. The women in the world have no sense of shame. According to God’s creation and according to His natural law, women should have a sense of shame. God created them in this way. Satan’s subtlety has encouraged women of today not to be shameful. The world says that it is a glory to be shameless. But a young lady without modesty and a sense of shame has lost all safeguard. A sense of shame is a kind of protection for the young ladies. Hence, Paul says that the sisters should adorn themselves with modesty or a sense of shame.
The way some women dress today is certainly not of a sober mind. Some young ladies wear their dresses too short, while others wear them too long. I do not believe that either way manifests sobriety. If the sisters take the humanity of Jesus, this humanity will give them a sober understanding in the way they should wear their clothing. There is not one verse telling us how long or how short our clothing should be, but there is this verse in 1 Timothy 2:9 telling the sisters to adorn themselves in proper clothing with modesty. I am not giving any regulations; I am just ministering something of the humanity of Jesus. If we really mean business to take Jesus as our humanity, He will tell us how we should dress.
At this point I would like to mention another verse in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 22:5 says, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.” Just last week while riding with a brother in his car, I was asked whether certain ones who were walking on the street were men or women. I answered that I simply did not know. I could not tell the difference. This is not a joke, this is a kind of abomination to the Lord. This kind of apparel leads to much fornication.
I say again that I am not giving any regulations for the church life. My burden is to minister the real, genuine, proper humanity of Jesus. I could never believe that the humanity of Jesus would allow any sister to adorn herself in a man’s way, nor any brother to dress in a woman’s way. The Lord says in His Word that this is an abomination to Him. It is not a small mistake or wrongdoing; it is an abomination to the Lord. We are fighting for the kingdom, and if we lose the ground, how can we fight the battle? The enemy will laugh at us. We will already be in his hands.
(Christ as the Reality, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)