How do you view those who are in need? Some of us struggle in this area. We are often naturally skeptical of people who are needy. In American culture, there are many safety nets for the poor and all of them are abused by some. But, does that relieve the local church from caring for them? We are actually commanded to do so. This is what 1 Timothy 5 is all about. Beginning with looking at those in the church as “family,” we see that it makes us not responsible for more than financial needs, but we are to love and care for people whom God puts in our paths.
Loving the Needy – LESSON AUDIO
In the first century culture in which the Bible was written, widows and orphans were the neediest people there were. As the Apostle points to loving other members of the church he says;
1 Timothy 5:1-3 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity. 3 Honor widows who are really widows.
Love and respect everyone and honor the widows. Honor includes caring for them in every practical way.
1 Timothy 5:4-8 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. 5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. ….. 7 And these things command, that they may be blameless. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
If she is your widow (a relative of yours), take care of her! There is not much worse you could do than neglect them. However, there are those who have no one to care for them. These, if they were godly widows, were actually supported by the church.
1 Timothy 5:9-10 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, 10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.
In American culture in the 21st Century, we really don’t have this situation very often. The basic theme of the passage though has to do with loving and caring for the neediest people in our fellowships and families. As Christians we cannot neglect care for the poor or others in need. Many more conservative churches have reacted against the social gospel or more modern things like friendship evangelism because they never really get to the Gospel of Jesus Christ but substitute care and friendship for it. The biggest problem with these things is not that they are outright lies, but half-truths. Care and relationships are important to the Gospel and a great foundation for gaining the ear of those outside the church. Good works should always accompany the Gospel. The question is, who is the one who is needy in your life, your church, your community? Not just financially, maybe they need a friend, a counselor, or just to know that somebody notices them. How can you demonstrate love and care for them and give them the Gospel or build them up in the faith?
You can hear more on this subject if you click on the link to the audio of the lesson below.
Loving the Needy – LESSON AUDIO