1 Timothy 5:9-16
9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. 11 As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. 12 Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. 13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to. 14 So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. 15 Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan. 16 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.
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