Readings for the Day
2 Kings 10, 2 Chronicles 22-23, 1 Timothy 5
Verses for the Day
3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.
Thoughts for the Day
Paul finishes his first letter to Timothy by giving some instructions on how to care for the widows in the church. Apparently there were quite a few of them, because Paul gives quite a bit of specificity on how to determine which widows the church should support.
One of the first comments Paul gives is that widows who have children should be financially supported by them. It is a "no brainer" for Paul that the family of the widow should honor their parent by supporting them and caring for them. It would fall under the 4th commandment, "Honor your father and mother". Not only does it honor their parent, but it helps the church to support widows who have no family that can support them.
Finally, Paul gives a stern warning to those relatives who turn away from their own, especially if they are from their own household. He says to neglect this duty is worse than being an unbeliever, and such a person has denied their faith.
Paul gives some other instruction for determining who should be placed at the top of the list including:
1. Widow should be over 60. Younger widows should consider re-marrying. They should not just indulge sensual pleasures but seek to be in another faithful marriage.
2. The woman should be a good and faithful wife, and mother and known for her good deeds.
3. Finally she should be known for showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.
So what can we infer from all of these specific instructions for determining which widows the church should support? The church needs to be wise as it supports those in need, especially those in the congregation. Paul separates and distinguishes between those who have the greatest needs and the least amount of means to meet their own needs. And part of the discernment arises from the sincerity of their commitment to the Lord.
So though it is clear from the bible the church needs to support those in need, it doesn't do so blindly. We would be wise stewards of God's resources if we would use the same due diligence as Paul instructed Timothy to use.