Read 1 Timothy 5:1-16
An age-old expression tells us “charity begins at home.” In other words, we have a primary obligation to our family and those closest to us. We should not ignore their needs while looking out for others more distant. On the one hand, that seems obvious. Meanwhile, the execution is not always easy. Because we don’t have all of the details about another person, we may have a tendency to glorify his/her needs and give priority to them. On the other hand, we know more of the ins and outs of people close to us. We see the warts, the wrinkles, and the blemishes, and may somehow justify not responding to their needs.
How does that tie into our reading for today? We pointed out yesterday how the church had a seemingly inherent understanding of their responsibility towards widows (Acts 6). With time, however, the Spirit of God moved Paul to give directives that were to help the church to discern which widows to help when. And one of the principles governing those directives is found in verse 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” (5:8).
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. 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? Charity begins at home!