The Family of God
I Timothy 5:1-16
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.
Paul has dealt with the church through Timothy, giving him instructions that relate to managing corporate worship, instructions that relate to church leadership and instructions that relate to emphasizing the importance of personal character development to act as a bulwark of false teaching in the last days.
In today’s passage, Paul moves on to another practical issue that relates to the care for folks in the church who are “truly needy.”
He begins by telling Timothy to teach people to treat each other like family.
- Family Provides for Each Other
- The two become one flesh which make many
- One flesh means corporate responsibility
- Parents care for children, children care for parents
What about those who are alone?
- The Church Partners in Responsible Care
- Older and younger, men and women
“The church family” It’s about caring well for one another!
If the church acts as a secondary family, what does that look like?
Mothers, sisters, brothers. I assume fathers as well, but they are not mentioned.
We treat family differently because of connection. Time spent, same name, similar world view, and direct responsibility.
- Appropriate cultural respect is taught
Respect shown to all people. People are created in the image of God.
Treating people like family.
Love for neighbor.
Washing each other’s feet.
Looking out for the interests of others.
- There is no exchange of personal responsibility
In no instance does the church become responsible to provide for another person. A family can adopt someone, but the church does not adopt people.
EV Hill and the soup kitchen in South Central LA.
III. The Special Case of Those Without Family
- Every person is responsible for themselves
This is God’s design. Adam has a job and a place to live before he has Eve as a wife. It’s the same idea.
Dignity is attached to responsibility.
The idea of not gleaning the corners of your fields.
If you can make me responsible for you, then I become your slave.
What exactly is it that I owe you?
Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. There is a lot of talk about unjust treatment in our culture. Some of it is justified, some of it is strange. But, if we will honor people as created in the image of God that should be good. Declaration of Independence. Self- evident truths. But if you find yourself in a difficult situation, your calling is to maintain your dignity, your prayerful spirit, your personal responsibility and then treat the church as your family. Ask.
Romans 13: 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
- Followers of Christ look out for others
Hospitals, Colleges, Service ministries: YMCA, YWCA, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, and almost all churches actively look to the community to help. Russ Bus, Manna House, Crow Mt Baptist Church, Main Street Mission, Help Network and on and on. There is a reason that folks call around and ask churches for help!
Even if I am looking out for your best interests, I am not responsible for you.
Let’s say you have a benevolence request, we have folks who are responsible for making those decisions. You do not have a right to being helped by others. We are all responsible for ourselves. Now, God tells me to look out for you, but you don’t get to control how that happens.
And you do not get my wallet. OK, let’s look at it another way. Later in this book it says that you are to treat Elders with special honor, especially those who teach the Word. And it quotes a verse about Oxen in the Old Testament: Don’t muzzle the ox that treads the grain. That doesn’t mean that the pastor gets your wallet! It means that you look out for them! It’s two different things. And if the pastor doesn’t think he is paid appropriately, they can appeal, but they still don’t get your wallet. This is a rule that I think should be applied carefully to government as well.
- Be prepared for yourself and others
You need to have cultivated relationships with people who can help you. If a disaster strikes, you need friends who can take you in. And you need to be able to speak and act in such a way as to be a positive serving force in the lives of those people.
We need to have money saved so that we can face disasters. If you own a vehicle, you need money for gas right? And oil changes. And new tires. And insurance. And REPAIRS. And a new vehicle at some point.
If you own a house you need insurance. You need to become handy so you can do repairs. You need to have enough cushion in your income so you can manage repairs. You will have to replace your roof and your heating and air within twenty years. The other option is to sell or refinance.
As a church, if we are going to help each other, then we need to know each other. And we need to know our abilities. And we need to have money set aside to make things possible. In the past we have been more handy than we are right now. But we receive a benevolence offering monthly to help. This does not mean that because the church has money that any individual is entitled to it. That is not the case. The only thing we are entitled to is what we can manage for ourselves. Anything beyond this is theft.
This is all an expression of Ephesians 4:28
28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.