Wednesday 14 July, 2021

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.

The apostle Paul is giving Timothy some practical guidelines with respect to how widows can best serve the Lord at that time in church history.  Paul’s preference is to allow the older widows of reputable character to be involved in ministry and be supported by the church while the younger widows are better off remarrying.

On my first reading of this passage I thought, “Wow, it kind of speaks for itself – what can I say?” Paul has made it abundantly clear how he feels about widows serving in the church.  I do think we need to take a step back here and look context and culture of the time to appreciate this passage.  Paul is advising Timothy, a young pastor on what tends to work from a practical point of view when overseeing a large church.  We also need to take into account the status of women at that time and in particular that of the widow.  Without a husband, a woman had very low social status, it was just a fact, and this why Paul addresses the need to care for widows so specifically.  

So, what can we take from this passage today?  I think we can observe the different stages of life and how best we can serve and honour the Lord along the way.  To be real about our capacities, the roles we undertake, what they will require of us and our ability to see it through. Sobering thoughts but very valid in terms of what you commit yourself to.

Thank you, Lord, that every believer is gifted and called to serve you in some way.  Guide me Lord at this point in my life with how best I can serve you. Amen.

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

2 replies
  1. Richard Botta says:

    I love your insights Ainslie!!

    Here is my reflection from SOAP this morning with a bunch of our young adults.

    I dare say for many this passage seems a little irrelevant. It does speak ostensibly to one half of the population and then only to those who have married and then to those who had married and had the difficult experience of having their spouse die. So this is not a large proportion of the society. That said the passage is quite rich. It describes varying stages of life and varying kinds of temptations.

    Over the years I have noted that with the stages of life there are times the things I get tempted by changes. Paul also speaks to the issue of someone falling away – a topic we do not like to speak about but which Paul speaks to with some frequency.

    For me the primary thing I see in this passage is the need to pay attention to the manner of my life. Do I concentrate on the things I need to pay attention to or the things that are on other people’s agendas from God.

    Father help me to honour You by paying attention to what you have called me to be and do.

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