Read 1 Timothy 5:1-16
As Timothy instructed the believers in Ephesus about proper conduct within the church, he was to tell them how to relate to one another. Relationships within the church, you see, were to reflect the same kind of respect, concern, and propriety that you would experience within the family (vv. 1, 2). But, ultimately, the family was to be like the fire department in situations of desperate need…they were to be the first responders.
“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (5:8).
When we, as family members, act as first responders (especially to parents and grandparents), we are doing two things. First, we are “repaying” them. They have made an investment in us. Who we are, is, in part, a result of how their lives have intersected with and impacted ours. When we give time, energy, or resources to family, we are saying “thank you.”
But beyond the “thank you,” our provision for relatives and immediate family is a litmus test of our faith. You see, family is the first context in which our faith is to be lived out. In fact, if we fail to care for our family, God is not pleased (v. 4). Ouch! That is a strong statement. But it gets stronger yet. Your care for your family says something about your faith. Family care is so much a part of the natural, first response of genuine believers that a failure to care indicates that faith is not genuine (v. 8).
I hope, however, that you also noticed that there is a second line of defense. The second ones on the scene, the ones who also carry responsibility…especially for widows…are those in the church. As in the first church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-7), the church is to help meet the real needs of godly, older women who have lost their husbands. In fact, it is this genuine concern for widows and orphans that should characterize true believers (Js. 1:26, 27).
Are you participating in meeting the needs of your family? Are there widows, orphans, or single-parent children with real needs in your world that God would have you respond to? The family…and the church…should be first on the scene!