1 Timothy 5:1-16
When I was talking with my brother one day about a homeless man we just passed by, we pondered as to how this person ended up in the situation that he was in. We don’t know ultimately what the reason was for his present state of affairs but we couldn’t help but have these questions:
What happened to his family?
Does he not have any friends that care?
Does he even have friends?
What could possibly have happened that he has absolutely no where to go?
What happened to have led him to this position?
Did he do something so crazy that it burned all the bridges with people that could have helped him?
Many questions were circulating in our minds but regardless of the reason I know that homelessness is world wide epidemic that cannot be solved overnight and not by the hands of the few.
Let’s say that the worst case scenario happens and that the reason why this person or any person on the street lost all their family members and ties to anyone that can help them. In dire situations where someone has to fend for themselves, the church is to rise up and be the helping family that they do not have.
In today’s passage we see Paul addressing a situation where he calls upon the church and families to rise up and be families. The church and family unit are very similar in their purpose and the characteristics of either group are actually called upon to mimic the other group in different ways. The way the church operates should be like a family and that the family is to be a small church in of itself with the parents functioning as the “pastors” of their own little home while being part of the larger church group.
Paul explains in detail a lot about who really is a widow and how to take care of them within the church. According to Paul, a widow is someone who is completely alone and does not have anyone to lean upon to help with their basic living. In ancient culture, a true widow was considered dead as they didn’t have the covering of a man to help them survive but what is strange is that Paul and the Kingdom of God have a different take on that situation.
Paul states in verse 5-6,
“She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.”
Two widows, two different lifestyles but two different declarations of their true state. Paul tells us that it will not be the external circumstances that will determine if their life is over but that it is ultimately the condition of their heart and who they are in relation to God. Both are physically widows but only one is considered practically dead; the one that is not close to God is not truly living so it is the presence of God or the lack there of that determines ultimately the life one has.
So how does widows and homeless people have to do with God and our familes?
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
“If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.”
It’s about taking care of people! Paul is saying that the church is to be the family for those who truly do not have families and that the families who are part of the church must learn how to take care of their own personal blood families. The level of how we can function as a healthy spiritual family will be determined by how well we can function healthily within our own blood families.
If there was a passage that really dealt with the carrying out the second greatest commandment to love the people around us than this is it! For the measure of our love of God is when we show how much we care about the things he cares about so today can we practice compassion within our families both physical and spiritual?
If you have an amazing spiritual family and love them deeply then learn how to bring that same attitude back to your physical family. If you have an amazing physical family and love them deeply than learn how to bring that same attitude back to the spiritual family. If you have neither then stick close to the heart of God and ask how you can take action to make this a reality because you can’t control others but you can control your own life! For when we practice these things daily in the communities that God has given us then we will come to realize as our hearts are more like his that we can not turn a blind eye to those who are truly in need of our time and resources.