What does conduct in the church look like? What kind of leaders and servants should a church have? How do people in the church relate to one another? Those are the kinds of questions that Paul is answering in this first letter to his dear friend Timothy (3:15). In doing so, the fifth chapter of this book also gives you insight into how you are to respond to the fifth commandment to “honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12).
As a background to Paul’s thoughts, you should note that caring for widows is close to the heart of God (Deut. 14:28, 29; Js. 1:27). Thankfully, that kind of care was also important to the early church. Just a short time after the birth of the first church in Jerusalem, you can read about the concern they demonstrated as they offered food to widows on a daily basis (Acts 6:1-6). That kind of widow care apparently continued beyond that place and beyond that point in time. In 1 Timothy 5, Paul gives clarity for this ministry of the church in Ephesus.
While the apostle gives a fairly detailed list of qualifications for receiving help, that is beyond the scope of our intentions here. Key for us to recognize is the priority that the Scriptures ascribe to family members in providing care for a widow. Here is the clear teaching:
“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.” (v. 4)
“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (v. 8)
“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.” (v. 16)
The point is clear. God has designed the family to be first in the line of care providers for other members of their family. Demonstrating this care is both a means of saying “thank you” to the generation ahead of us and a proving ground for our faith.
Are there family members (parents and grandparents especially) that you need to honor in this way?