Family Ties – Part 2

1 Timothy 5:3-16

Last event recorded in Gospels before Triumphal Entry: Jesus @ house of Simon the leper; woman, alabaster flask, expensive perfume. Anointed Jesus, rebuked by others for waste – should have sold, give 300 days’ wages to poor. Jesus defended her, “leave her alone”. Notice what he said next: “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good.” (Mark 14:3-7) Jesus did not criticize helping poor; in fact, he indicated helping poor should be regular part of daily life. However,… we must give right kind of help, what encourages and enables other person to live in conformity with God’s design for mankind.

Primary focus of our text – widows. By no means only family-type language used in these verses: widow, children, grandchildren, parents, his own, household. Much instruction about “family ties” – both human family and church family. What are responsibilities of one to another? What principles should guide our care of those in need? Must evaluate help we give to others, make sure it promotes development of Christian character in recipient (edifies them), moves them toward greater obedience to God.

God has laid down clear principles, lines of responsibility – whose job it is to raise children, what duties of a local church are. Last time spoke of parents’ responsibilities to children and vice versa. This week – the responsibility of the church to care for her own. But even that doesn’t mean it’s church’s job to relieve poverty of all the needy under her care – that is clear from our text. Is also clear God has particular design for both church and family, one is not to usurp the place of the other.

Reminder once again: focus is on widows, apparently a serious issue in Ephesus in 1st century. Just like ministry issue identified in Acts 6:1-7 centered on care of widows. Can also apply to those who have been “widowed” by divorce. But,… much of teaching here applies regardless of age, gender or marital status. Care of one another within church setting intended to be typical, not unique to Jerusalem or Ephesus or 1st century.

A. basic principles v.3-8

narrow the list (3)

truly in need – without support or ability to provide own support

no such thing in those days as pensions, IRA’s or Social Security/Medicare; for younger women – no AFDC or SNAP or WIC

options were: personal wealth, work, live with family, beg, depend on the church

talking about those with no readily apparent means of support and in need of assistance for survival

extends to those who aren’t widows but are in need

singles, who never married, perhaps devoted life to “Christian service”

divorced, thus effectively widowed, providentially hindered from remarrying

narrow some more (4)

do not have family

no children or grandchildren (obviously of working age!) or near relative who can fill that role

church must not preempt family duty

God ordained 3 institutions – family, church, civil government; includes specific roles / responsibilites for each

one institution not designed to fill role of other two, can never be effective in it

society in trouble when one institution either fails to do its job, tries to do someone else’s

church steals family blessing when it assumes role it shouldn’t

further qualification (5-6)

one of “the family”, church family, that is – living in active dependence on God to meet daily needs

one not devoted to pleasure-seeking

mindset of: worked hard enough, long enough, owe to myself, deserve to do what I want, go where I want

dead to call of God, to needs of others, unable to be useful to God while in that condition

don’t suggest, declare as biblical principle (7)

it’s important for their sanctification – not one way among many, take your pick of whatever works

whether talking about God’s design for family or relief of poor: have duty to know and follow God’s way

bottom line (8)

head of the home is responsible to provide

church must not foster dependence, must not give opportunity for people to avoid taking responsibility

B. qualifications for care v.9-10

age requirement: 60+ (9a)

those without prospects of being able to support themselves

past the age where work for self-support is possible

past the age where remarriage is likely

might say “I’m not interested”; remember God’s assessment of Adam: “it is not good…”

nothing magic about number 60; what it signifies culturally is the important thing

not intended to be long-term burden on the church

long-standing widowhood is to be help to ministry of local church, not a drain on it

character requirement (9b-10)

echoes of character required of elder and deacon back in chapter 3

above reproach, devoted wife; reputation for godliness, hospitality, service, compassion

qualities that would equip and suit her for ministry to other women

expected to labor in ministry in return for support

not getting something for nothing

broaden out principles to other than widows

regardless of who is helped, church must

practice responsibility and stewardship

encourage responsibility and stewardship

C. younger women v.11-15

encourage young widows to think it through (11)

vow to serve Christ as a single often doesn’t last – Maria, Sound of Music

same can be said for “I’ll never get married again”; be very careful how you respond when you hear someone say that (example: J & S)

btw: desire for companionship not bad or wrong; it’s by design. Only wrong when has object displeasing to God!

don’t accept commitment made rashly (12)

breaking promise reflects badly on cause of Christ; old expression “word is his bond”, should still be true

Christ kept and keeps his promises; being Christ-like requires same of us

free time promotes bad habits (13)

how many stay-at-home welfare moms are good housekeepers?

what about the ideal woman in Proverbs – Prov. 31:27 “She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.”

ideal, yes, but always bears resemblance to reality

talebearing – Prov. 26:20 gossips, busybodies – in other words, troublemakers; depart from God’s design, things lead to things, not in good way

encourage them to follow God’s design (14)

better they remarry – Elisabeth Elliott

don’t forget what God said to first man, perfect and sinless: “not good that man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18)

what he said next vitally important, too: “I will make him a helper”; neither man nor woman designed for single life

to degree that we promote and encourage and enable single-parenting, we frustrate God’s design for both men and women and families

disclaimer: God knows details of each person’s situation including potential spouse; our job to determine God’s plan, assuming single moms should remarry but recognizing God may have different idea

D. summary v.16

follow God’s plan, not that of the world

regardless of feelings, statistics, opinions, pressure

in spite of temptation – opportunity / provision is there, might as well use it; if we don’t someone else will

remember: God will not bless use of unbiblical methods; may not bring the hammer down, won’t facilitate either

solve the problem as close as possible to the source (16a)

family first, not as last resort

mindset for all concerned: how can we obey God and serve one another without excuses

let the church be the safety net for the truly needy (16b)

those who genuinely have no other means of support

we must give much because we have received much

Christ is the example

default must be to give, not grab.

What did Jesus hold back at the Cross? Nothing!! He gave his life to those and for those who are in desperate need but have absolutely no way to repay. That is standard for us individually, corporately. We must be compassionate and generous:

Matt. 25:37-40 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

God grant us eyes and hearts to see the needy, courage and compassion to reach out to them as the Lord Jesus has reached out to us.


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