Week 4: Widows Indeed Cont’d
Day 2: Taking and Teaching Responsibility – I Timothy 5:3-16
The New Testament gives us a fairly complete set of directions concerning the care of widows. 1 Timothy 5 in particular lays things out clearly.
“Honor widows that are widows indeed.” (vs. 3) That seems straightforward enough. Honor widows. The word “indeed”, however, is there to clarify a certain group of widows. Who are they?
“But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.” (vs. 4) So, the church’s first responsibility is to the widow who has no family to care for her.
Notice the word “learn” in the second phrase of this verse. Could it be possible that while the church is busy taking care of the widows with no family, we also have a responsibility to teach those who have widows in their family to take responsibility toward them? Are we doing that? I honestly can’t remember hearing that principle taught more than once or twice in my entire life. How will they learn if we do not teach them?
So what are they supposed to learn? To “show piety at home, and to requite their parents.” Each and every one of us are to show respect and to pay back what we owe to our parents. This can be tricky to teach because many feel they owe their parents nothing. That is simply not true. Many feel the government will take care of their parents through Social Security, Medicare and other programs. This is not God’s desire. God desires that families care for one another. For these reasons, it is important to begin teaching these principles to children while they are young. Assuming the parent is widowed later in life, a child should not wait until that moment to begin showing them respect. It should start long before that.
Why are they to learn to do these things? Simple: “For that is good and acceptable before God.”
Don’t try to find a reason why you should honor your parents for who they are, do it because it is pleasing to the Lord. This is the most important aspect of what must be taught, especially when dealing with families that have been broken and splintered by anger, crime, bitterness, drugs or any number of such things. We don’t do these things simply because this is our parent, we do these things to honor the Lord.
“Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” Now we are back to the guidelines of the widows for whom the church is to assume care:
First, those that are desolate. This basically means those that are alone, who have no children.
Second, they trust in God. This word “trust” is a beautiful word. It doesn’t just mean they believe in God. It means they are hoping, waiting on God with joy and confidence. The church’s first responsibility is toward these women. Those who have firmly placed their faith in Christ and are waiting on Him with the confidence that all He has said is true.
Third, they continue “in supplications and prayers night and day.” These women know how to pray. They know how to bring their needs before the Lord. They know how to bring the needs of others before the Lord. And, they do it continuously.
Fourth, these women are not to be living in wanton pleasure. In other words, they should not be living like the prodigal son. In that case, they are dead while they’re still alive.
Does this mean we should never minister to unbelieving widows? No. A place for ministry to widows who are not saved definitely exists, but that is where we step into the realm of personal ministry. The church is not to be burdened with their care, but is to give first concern to their own. When we do step into this realm as individuals, we need to be careful to take the same approach as the church. Encourage the family to be involved where there is family. Where there is none we need to be careful to use the opportunities and abilities God gives to meet the needs of the widows He puts in our lives. Always be faithful to present Christ at every opportunity. He is their only real hope and source of comfort.
“And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Those are strong words, but notice the disclaimer “And these things give in charge.” These things are to be taught, are we teaching them? Do we teach young men that as their parents age they need to be caring for them? Do we teach those same young men that if they don’t care for their parents God sees them as worse than an infidel – an unbeliever? This is a serious matter. Very serious. Are we teaching it?
“Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have diligently followed every good work.” So there it is, these are some of the key things that you are looking for in the widow that the church is to “take into the number”.
“But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan.” The younger widows are not to be admitted to the widows’ roll. Instead they are encouraged to marry again, to prevent them from wandering away from the faith and bringing blame to themselves, the church and most importantly Christ.
So here’s a little food for thought: What then is our responsibility to these younger women in the days and months following the loss of their husbands? Do we just leave them to grieve alone? How do we minister to them? What do you think? I know what I think, but I would like to hear your thoughts on the matter.
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