Today you should read: 1 Timothy 5:1-16
As we have seen, young Timothy had a rambunctious church he was called to lead. Paul gave ministry wisdom to address the issues Timothy was facing. Our passage today picks up with great advice for us all. Paul instructed Timothy in his posture of correcting God’s Church (1–2). We are to maintain purity in our relationships, treating each person as a family member.
In verses 3–16, Paul gets to a much stickier situation. Paul begins “Honor widows…” That’s good advice from Paul that’s been a standard among God’s people for centuries, “…who are widows indeed.” What, what?
We saw back in chapter 2 that Timothy was facing a bit of a crisis among the women in the church. It seems that they were gallivanting around, showing off a little too much of what momma gave them, while loudly proclaiming opinions. What Paul states there is that he does not want women to concern themselves with external appearance, except to the extent that their dress reflects modesty (2:9). Instead, like with the attitude in prayer for men, mentioned earlier in chapter 2, Paul is more concerned with the internal position of a woman’s heart in her dress, than her external appearance.
In chapter 5, it seems likely that some of these same women are widows, expecting the church to supply their needs. Paul essentially said that the church paying for the excesses of these women is bad stewardship and makes the church look bad. There are real widows who have need, but the coffers are being used up by women who could find help elsewhere. Paul advises Timothy to help those who are past marrying age (9), who have no family (5a), hopes in the Lord and worships Him (5b), has a good reputation (10), was faithful while married and not promiscuous as a widow (9b).
Conversely, some of the widows seeking assistance had kids who could help if they would have humbled themselves to ask (4), they were given to “wanton pleasure” (6), they had the potential to re-marry but weren’t (10a). Paul warned that resourcing these younger widows meant setting them up for promiscuity (11), idleness, and gossip (13).
There are some cultural things that impacts Paul’s instruction in this passage that aren’t the same for us as modern readers. However, Paul’s theme of stewarding the resources of God in giving help to others is very important and relevant.
You can apply this passage in two directions. First, God is overwhelmingly concerned with the suffering of the oppressed—with those who cannot help themselves. Center Point is a very generous church. Many of you want to help those in need. This passage advises care and wisdom in helping others. Make sure your help helps and doesn’t enable sin.
Second, if you’re in need and thinking of asking for help, this passage offers some advice. Practically speaking, we offer the most help to committed members who love the Lord and have a temporary need—not a repeating need that budgeting and life wisdom would fix.
Also, this passage encourages seeking help from those in your life first. This may require reconciliation. The church can only help so much if you have a trail of broken relationships in your past. After you have exhausted your relational resources, then go to the church for help.
Often, we want to offer more help to people than we can—that’s true of CPC, but also for us as individuals. Sometimes we need to humble ourselves and ask for help. But no matter where we’re at, let us first be people of purity. Let us love the Lord before anything else.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate
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