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.
17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,”[a] and “The worker deserves his wages.”[b] 19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
23 Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
24 The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. 25 In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.
Some very interesting instruction in this chapter. The first thing that caught my attention was vs. 2 where Paul says to treat the younger women like sisters, ‘with absolute purity’. I don’t think I ever caught that before. Until you decide to marry, speaking from a guys perspective, we are to treat the young women like sisters. That line of thinking would definitely help keep opposite sex relationships appropriate.
But what really is clear in a majority of this chapter is the importance of work. Not just work, but not being a burden to the church unnecessarily. What Paul instructs almost feels opposite of what we are so compelled to do. It’s almost a bit harsh. First he instructs them to not put any widows on the list until they are 60. And to add to that, they had to have been a woman of good character and was known for living her faith and doing good deeds. But if the woman has children or grandchildren, they need to be taught to take care of her. Not a bad policy, society would be way ahead to listen to advice like this.
And a couple times, Paul says to pay attention to the widows who are ‘really in need’. If a widow is being looked after, that person should remain the caregiver, and not burden the church (and I dare say the government), as well as the if the widow does not fit Pauls criteria, they should not qualify for help. That way there is resources available for those who really don’t have anywhere else to turn.
I don’t think Paul was intending to be legalistic by saying we need to scrutinize everyone’s life and lifestyle if they are asking for help. But what I think Paul is saying is we are stewards of His resources and we need to be wise with how we handle them. From experience, we all know when there is easy money or free handouts, there are those who need it and those who don’t need it but are willing to take it. Don’t stop doing good for others, give and give generously, love generously and pour out grace. But be wise, money isn’t always the answer that someone needs. Often is guidance, wise counsel and putting your foot down are sometimes much more helpful. I remember having to fire a guy one time, after giving too many chances which we thought was being full of grace. He came back months later and thanked us for firing him, because it was the best lesson he ever learned.
Pray our hearts will always be full of love and grace for people, with a willing heart to help those in need, having the wisdom to know the type of help that would be the most beneficial and whatever it is, to give it generously and with a joyful heart.