1 Timothy 9
1 Timothy 5:1-16
- play Jeremiah: car accident, in hospital, some time before you’re fit for work, find job been given to another, unemployed, continues for some time until you’re too old. Disastrous! But: when in hospital - ACC; while unemployed - Dole; when old - super-ann/GRI - what if it wasn’t there?! In many nations today that is the situation.
- ? State welfare good. Good to care for needy or does it cause free-loaders?
- look at the church and its involvement in charity.
- Read 5:1-16 - look at situation then, the issue of responsibility for those in need, principles for us today
- the principle of family in church relationships [v.1,2] [OHP1b]
- In his instructions to Timothy regarding the care and running of the church at Ephesus, Paul now turns to a practical issue, the care of widows, handling people and their difficulties.
- The church is made up of people - you are dealing with human relationships - this is a sensitive area
- Timothy was in a difficult position - he was a young, single man, yet had the task of establishing the church which placed him in authority over men older than himself. Furthermore there was false teaching to be dealt with. He had to exercise discipline yet be an example of respect and consideration. How does one handle such a delicate task?
- The church is a family, we are all children of God. We are to relate to others in the fellowship as members of our family - this ensures proper respect, order and innocence, yet at the same time closeness, frankness, friendship, unity and love.
- the way to approach relationships with older men is to relate to them as your father - do not rebuke them but rather exhort, encourage them. Imagining how you would approach them if they were your father will ensure you deal with them with respect (cf. Leviticus 19:32 You shall rise up before the gray headed and honour the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord) .honour, compassion and love - yet will also ensure you speak openly and won’t avoid issues of serious concern.
- Likewise older women are to be related to as mother. Young men are to be treated as brothers and young women as sisters. this ensures that the pastor will not lord it over others and hold himself aloof or superior but will relate in love, in close relationship, in concern for them.
- it will ensure an innocence in dealing with younger women - if regarded as sisters there is no thought of a sexual aspect to the relationship.
This overruling principle of relating to members of the local fellowship as family members will guide us in the right way to relate to others even in the most delicate or difficult situations. Encouraging is the way we are to relate to others. Don’t berate them into proper behaviour but encourage and exhort them.
- leaders are responsible to share the love of the LORD and the truth with all groups in the local church. There are different people who need to be treated differently. All need to grow, to be taught, all need correction - but it must be done with respect and dignity - family spirit is to be exhibited to all - the key to dealing with others is that we are family
- WE ARE FAMILY - treating others as such ensures respect and purity in the relationship
- the situation then:
- there were evidently many widows around and not all were old, possibly husbands lost in war
- it was a big social problem - there was no social welfare system
- the church cared for its own - love in action
- very soon a system was set in place to avoid certain ones being neglected (Act 6)
- there was a list of registered widows - to be registered a pledge of celibacy and devotion to the LORD was required
- this practical Christian love was noticed (John 13:35)
- people could see that it paid to join the church if you were a widow
- came in under false pretenses, weren’t really Christians, they were there for the free lunch - ripping off the system
- living off the church’s generosity and spending their time gossipping, living for their own pleasure
- it is still the same wherever there is charity, no matter how pure the motive, someone will always exploit it, take advantage
- so we find that there were 4 classes of widows: [OHP2a]
1. Widows who can support themselves (14) - younger widows should seek a husband. Those who can, should support themselves rather than be supported by others - do all within their own capability not to be a burden to others
2. Widows supported by their own families (4,8,16) - if a widow cannot support herself then the next sphere of support is her family. It is the responsibility of the family to care for its own. This is a good testimony before the world, it is a reproach on the name of Christ if they fail to do so [Isaiah 58:6-8 Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke? “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh? “Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard]
3. Widows supported by the church (3,5,9,10) - those who have lived godly lives and are over 60 years old are eligible for church support. There was a list of such. To qualify for such help she had to be a real intercessor, good mother, hospitable and lived a life of selflessness, good deeds, living for others.
4. Self indulgent widows (6,13,15) - there will always be those who take advantage of the charity, who rip off the system. Motivated by selfish concerns: self indulgent, idlers, gossipers, busybodies. The temptation of those unoccupied precludes the young from being so enrolled. To be enrolled was a pledge of a life of service to Christ - it wasn’t just a handout They condemn themselves if they break their vow.
Whose responsibility? [OHP1c]
- Widows - is it an issue? They are still among us! But doesn’t the govt take care of them? The Bible makes a big deal out of widows and orphans (over 30x); care and justice for the widow spoken of over 20x.
- Widows and orphans are those with nobody (eg. John Shutte) - no husband or father to provide - where can they turn to?
- God’s heart is toward them so should ours [Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 68:5; A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation. 146:9 The Lord supports the fatherless and the widow, but He thwarts the way of the wicked. James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.]
- the church is to be family for those with none - to look out for those who have no one.
- widows are to be honoured (v.3) - "Honour" in the NT often has financial implications (cf. v.17,18).
- “the government should do something about this terrible situation” - Hikoi of hope -blame govt and avoid our own responsibility is it the government’s job? They are doing a job that should be an opportunity for us to demonstrate our Christianity in practice. Christian charity is less evident today because we always look to the govt to solve our problems.
- Family responsibility: "Charity begins at home" - this tenet is consistent with Scripture. The church is not to be caring for a widow if she has family. It is the family’s responsibility to care for their own, for the children and grandchildren to support their parents and grandparents. This is godliness! (cf. Mark 7:6-13 (issue of corban) Eph 6:2 HONOUR your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.; Jas 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.) - not some pious super-spiritual hand-raising worship, but practical financial support of those in your family who have no means of support. This practice is not natural, it must be learnt (v.4)
- We owe a debt to our parents - they raised us when we were children, helpless and unable to provide for ourselves; now that they are older it is for us to pay back that debt by supporting them now they are no longer able to provide for themselves. This means financially supporting your parents in their retirement. This is godliness. This is acceptable to God - pleasing in His sight. If we want to please God we ought to provide for our parents in their later years. Our first responsibility is to provide for our own family - even before charity and giving gifts to God
- Timothy is to command families to care for their own. Providing for your family is fundamental to our faith. If you don’t provide for your own you are not a Christian!! You are worse than an unbeliever! You have denied the faith! Strong words! Providing for the members of your family is an integral part of practical godliness (v.4) it pleases God. Not to provide for members of your won family is utterly abhorrent, a denial of the Christian faith which commands us to love - and love must be seen in practical action (1 John 3:18). It is utterly inconsistent with Christianity not to support your relatives - it is an unthinkable thing to do! Don’t leave it to the church or welfare system to take care of it. One who fails in this regard is worse than an unbeliever because unbelievers perform the duty (both Jew and Gentile) and because he has not only contravened the law of Christ but also the law of nature.
- Church responsibility: - the church was the final backstop - only for those who could not remarry, support themselves or be supported by their family - those genuinely in need, whose trust was solely in God for her needs.
- the church is to care for those who have no one else.
- it must take care not to get overburdened with the issue of charity and thus get distracted from its main purpose
- Recipient’s responsibility: The character of those that were supported was first tested - evidence of good deeds, helping others, selfless not self motivated (v.10).
- age restriction to encourage reestablishment of family unit - maturity was required
- they must not use charity to support a lazy self indulgent lifestyle
- had to be evidence of spiritual earnestness - it wasn’t money for nothing, a return was expected, that they would be employed in prayer
- it was a pledge - a life devoted to the life of the church, lifelong commitment , she was not to marry again.
- widowhood as a calling from God - life and usefulness is not over - opportunity for a degree of devotion impossible when married (1 Corinthians 7:34. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.)
- principles for us: [OHP2b]
- does it apply today when govt does it for us? - yes, “the poor will always be with us” that’s how the world knows we are Christians by our love
- charity is not a simple matter
- Sally’s do a great job but danger of becoming diverted from goal by being consumed by the overwhelming need - govt does it for us.
- charity to those where there is no system like we have eg. Uganda - but not without awareness of moral effects eg. Lydia’s mum remarried
- attention to these principles will help avoid some of the pitfalls
• church was involved in charity
• charity was organised into a system - it may seem unspiritual
• charity was only for those genuinely in need - their character was tested
• church charity was a final backstop when all other means failed
• church charity did not override personal responsibility
• receipt of charity brought obligations - it wasn’t money for nothing, a return was expected, to receive charity a commitment of loyalty was required - a pledge - widows as a prayer force, it was a spiritual investment (Hebrides revival)
• standard required before charity given spiritual, moral, character and behavioural qualifications to receive charity
• families have a responsibility to care for their own - church charity did not remove family obligations
• it was not blanket charity - just throwing money indiscriminately doesn’t solve the problem
• the individual and her circumstances were taken into account
• concern for their moral well-being as well as material needs
• guarded against idleness/sin - beware of charity encouraging laziness and immorality
• guarded against exploitation - beware of charity causing people to avoid their responsibilities, taking advantage of generosity
• guarded against church being burdened - social action should not take over and crowd out the churches main business
• encourage re-establishing of family unit - charity is for the abnormal circumstance where the natural system breaks down
- is the issue of charity to those who have no one important for the church today? [OHP1d]
- Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.