1 Timothy 5:9-16
9 No widow should be put on the list of widows unless she is more than 60 years old. She must also have been faithful to her husband. 10 She must be well known for the good things she does. That includes bringing up children. It includes inviting guests into her home. It includes washing the feet of God’s people. It includes helping those who are in trouble. A widow should spend her time doing all kinds of good things. 11 Don’t put younger widows on that kind of list. They might want pleasure more than they want Christ. Then they would want to get married again. 12 If they do that, they will be judged. They have broken their first promise. 13 Besides, they get into the habit of having nothing to do. They go around from house to house. They waste time. They talk about others. They bother people. They say things they shouldn’t say. 14 So here is the advice I give to younger widows. Get married. Have children. Take care of your own homes. Don’t give the enemy the chance to tell lies about you. 15 In fact, some have already turned away to follow Satan. 16 Suppose a woman is a believer and has widows in her family. She should help them. She shouldn’t let the church pay the expenses. Then the church can help the widows who really need it.
Paul is giving Timothy some very specific instructions in how to administer his church. Good advice for Timothy, but what is in this passage for me?
There seems to be a theme of responsibility running through it: families take responsibility for their relatives; and the whole church takes responsibility to care for those widows who have no one else to care for them. But also responsibility by those who are being helped: the young widows look to serve rather than being served by marrying and forming another family; and the older widows being generous in their godliness, hospitality and acts of kindness. Through generosity by all, all are enriched.
Why such firm rules about the widows’ list? The very first dispute in the church (Acts 6:1-7) was over perceptions that the distribution of food to widows was not fair. The apostles acted quickly to make things obviously above reproach. I suspect that Timothy is being encouraged to set down clear rules so that there is no room for jealousy to become a distraction.
Being generous in my responsibilities. No room for jealousy. I can do that.
Written by David Cornell