In 1 Timothy, Chapter 5, Paul is communicating with Timothy on the many different people within his church congregation that he will be ministering to. In much the same way as today, a church group is made up of many different people with many different backgrounds and values. With this variety, there still must be unity within the church when looking at how one is to live as a Christian and as a believer in Jesus Christ. Even with our differences, we are all to live together with the mind of Christ. Timothy, as a leader of the church, had to reflect this leadership to his church and earn the respect of his elders and peers. The more that we, as believers in Jesus Christ and in God’s Word, have in knowledge and understanding of Him, the more we are responsible in our conduct and in our ministry to others.
While we often see our limitations in our impact in ministry, we must remember that God is completely able and works beyond our own reasoning and circumstances. Our challenge is to remain faithful to Christ in our service. Timothy’s church, as well as today’s church, needs Christians who desire to be in service to Him and for Him and to assume responsibility to care for our homes and our families. Paul stresses this to Timothy as being a key element in ministry.
Church leadership will deal with people with different age groups and people in different places in their knowledge and understanding of God. Timothy was instructed to not ignore areas of sin, but to still remain respectful to his elders and to those as his peers. “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and with all propriety, the younger women as sisters (1 Timothy 5:1-2).” While dealing with matters of sin and correction with the church members, you are still to remain respectful and hold everyone in high esteem and purity as you would a family member. The dealings with members of a church should be reflective of how we treat members of our own family (1 Timothy 5:8). As there are responsibilities for the care of family members, we are to emulate the same values within the church. Using the proper approach in ministry within our family will present and make evident the blessings and how God provides for us in this area. God states that we are to honor our parents and not to dishonor them (Matthew 15:3-9). God calls us to live with a sense of responsibility.
Even in the case of the widow as mentioned in 1 Timothy 5, the widow relies upon the care of others but is still to practice her faith with regular prayers and requests to God for help. Jesus recognized the importance of caring for widows, and in areas where resources our limited, He will provide for our needs (Luke 7:12-15; John 19:25-27). Note that Jesus did not ask for his earthly brothers to care for His mother. He asked John to care for her. He saw the importance of John, a true believer, caring for His mother because of how His brothers felt about Him. The principle to take from this is that believers are to care for believers, which even takes precedence over your own family members, especially if they are not following Christ and His teachings. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).”
Who is eligible for this help? According to 1 Timothy, “No widow should be placed on the official support list unless she is at least 60years old, has been the wife of one husband, and is well known for good works–that is, if she has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to every good work (1 Timothy 5:9-10).” Note that this was not a requirement for everyone. “But refuse to enroll younger widows; for when they are drawn away from Christ by desire, they want to marry, and will therefore receive condemnation because they have renounced their original pledge (1 Timothy 5:11-12).” This is indicative of someone who chooses to follow after fleshly desires instead of Christ. Note the result of this behavior: “At the same time, they also learn to be idle, going from house to house; they are not only idle, but are also gossips and busybodies, saying things that they shouldn’t say. For some have already turned away to follow Satan (1Timothy 5:13, 15).” Younger women are, as a result, encouraged to marry and be responsible for their families (1 Timothy 5:14). The first line of care for those in the church starts within the family. “If any believing woman has widows, she should help them, and the church should not be burdened, so that it can help those who are genuinely widows (1 Timothy 5:16).” The church should help those who have served faithfully who are genuinely in need of care. This is a family principle that we often push onto our government to make such provision when it is, in actuality, a responsibility of the Body of Christ. We need to trust that God is able to assist us in this area. It is mote than just looking at our limitations or our financial capabilities. Our responsibility is to trust that God will provide for us in these areas as we step out on our faith in caring for one another. It starts with believing that Jesus Christ is our ultimate provision. In doing this, we can serve Christ and minister to others with confidence. If our faith is without limits, our service will follow.