DEALING WITH NEED
Open my heart to the needs of others so that I am generous with my gifts in ways that truly are a blessing and bring you praise.
Read 1 TIMOTHY 5:1-16
Widows, Elders and Slaves
5 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
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. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. 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.
9 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.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThink about how your church identifies those in need—whether physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, social or any other type of need. How does it respond to these needs? What happens when the need is great, but resources are limited?
Timothy had been sent to Ephesus to confront wrong teaching, so whether he liked it or not, there was going to be conflict. Here, Paul gives him some guidance about how to speak to others, particularly those who were leading people astray. Following on from chapter 1 verse 5, Paul advises Timothy to treat others in the church as family members and to correct them lovingly.
Paul now turns his attention to those in need. Throughout the Bible, God shows his compassion to vulnerable people. Psalm 68:5 describes him as a ‘defender of widows,’ so there is no suggestion that the church should economize by limiting the number of widows it supports. Rather, Paul is concerned that all of us take up our social responsibilities and help those within our circle who are in need, reflecting the nature of God in our daily lives.
Support for the vulnerable should not be patronizing, belittling the recipient. Within Christian fellowship, everyone is worthy of respect and should be allowed to minister to others. What areas of ministry can widows, for example, be involved in (v 10)?
How are you supporting the vulnerable? Maybe you are one of the vulnerable—does this passage give you ideas for how you can minister as well as receive?
Creator God, thank you for who you have made me and for my gifts that come from your hand. Direct me where you would use me and show me how to share my gifts with others.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Discovery is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.