Scripture Union Resources

Family Matters

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Pray: 
Lord, You are more to me than the blessings You have provided. Thank You for being a generous God.
Read: 
1 TIMOTHY 5:1-16

[1] Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, [2] older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. [3] Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. [4] But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. [5] The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. [6] But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. [7] Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. [8] If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. [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 saints, 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 gossips and busybodies, 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 family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.

Meditate

Consider: 
“The church is called to help both the haves and the have-nots, the powerful and the powerless. The church is to be the gospel for all these people” (Fred Craddock).
Think Further: 

Sometimes Christians mistakenly contrast the writings of James and Paul. James, they think, is concerned with works, Paul with faith; James is concerned with behavior, Paul with doctrine. It’s entirely wrong: a well- rounded description of faith and life is found in the writings of both men. There are several statements in today’s passage which would have been worthy of James. They must “put their religion into practice by caring for their own family” (4); “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives … has denied the faith” (8); “help those widows who are really in need” (16; cf. Jas. 1:27, 2:15-17).

The passage shows how we should treat one another within the Christian community. Paul is writing for a specific cultural context (without the benefit of today’s welfare programs and social provision), but the principles are clear enough for all cultures and generations. Relationships matter, and should be marked by respect, purity, mutual support and compassionate care. Care for family members is a duty, failure in which is regarded as very serious (8).

In many parts of the world, the extended family is entirely normal, with elderly relatives cared for as a matter of family honor. In the Western world this is less common, and it is surely an emphasis which churches and Christian families must recover. Many Western societies have an aging population, with a growing proportion of people (young and old) living on their own. Not all of us have the ability or means to care for family members within our home, but we can all seek out the lonely and housebound, to draw them into community, to provide friendship, meals, finances and other help. And where an individual is unable to help, the church must do so (16). Is this not an essential outworking of sound doctrine?

Apply: 
In what ways can you and your Christian community take more effective action to help the lonely, the old and the vulnerable?
Pray: 
Father, I thank You for fellowship in the church. Forgive me if I have engineered friendships for personal gain and manipulated those who love me. Help me to be generous towards others.
Through the Bible In One Year: 
Isaiah 53,54 / Hebrews 9

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