3 Honor widows who are truly widows.
4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.
5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day,
6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.
7 Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach.
8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
We saw some murmurs of this in Acts 6–7. As the church grew, there were more and more of the people that Jesus was reaching out to the most. The weak, marginalized, powerless, poor-in-spirit, and widows would become the foundation of the church. Many women were already drawn to Judaism around the time of Jesus because of monogamy, education, and other high regards for women as opposed to many of the Greco-Roman religions.
So Paul lays out some instructions for Timothy on how to run the church. There will be a couple of admonitions in the coming verses about doing the work to care for one another and not being a burden to the body of believers.
There was no Social Security or Medicare in these days. If you couldn’t work, you’d become a beggar and depend on the mercy of the people around you. When people became part of the Christian groups, in many cities at this time, they would be cut off from the rest of the surrounding society. This new sect of Jews was not readily accepted by the Gentiles, because they were thought to be Jews, but they weren’t accepted by the Jewish people either!
So to follow Jesus was a commitment to a whole new lifestyle right from the beginning. It wasn’t like the Tri-State where everyone pretty much grew up in a Christian culture except for a few extremists here and there. In Timothy’s day, all the Christians had to be and were extremists!
So, as with marriage, one way to show the work of God and the personality of Jesus was within your own family. As the new way of life was on display for all, it would not make Jesus look good if a Christian left their family destitute. It would also not make Jesus look good if a young widow was just living that party life off of her dead husband’s riches.
So no matter our state, we set our hope on God to provide for us, to guide us, and to lead us. We might never be in the situation of a young & rich widow or an old and destitute widow, but the advice is the same. Put your hope in God and serve the people God has put around you.
That is the best mission trip we’ll ever go on.
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