03
Feb
15

Taking Care Of Brothers And Sisters In Need

Paul gives Timothy some instructions concerning the widows of the church in his day.  In Paul and Timothy’s day, widows were largely ignored by those outside of the Jewish and Christian cultures.  Widows who had no family to take care of them were to be looked after by the church.  The church would need to take the responsibility of providing for their material needs.  This is what Christians do.  We should take care of people who have no means of supporting themselves.
Paul does say that a widow who has children and grandchildren should be taken care of by them first.  I like how Paul puts it.  They
​…​should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family​…​​ – 1 Timothy 5:4 (NIV)​
Faith without action is dead, according to James.  Faith in action is as much about taking care of your family as it is about helping and serving the poor, marginalized and ostracized members of society.  Paul says so in verse 8:

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8 (NIV)

As Christians, we need to take care of our families.  Not just our immediate relatives, but our brothers and sisters in Christ as well.  Christians in need should not be turned away, neither should they be enabled.  We have to learn a balance of helping to provide for those with a legitimate need and to helping people get out of the situation in which they find themselves.  True benevolence helps by doing more than giving a hand out.  True benevolence helps people by educating them with regard to their finances, too.  Then they will be able to take care of everyone under their roofs.

1 Timothy 5:1-16 (NIV)

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 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. 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. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

11 As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry.12 Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. 13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to. 14 So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. 15 Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.

16 If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.

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