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