PAYDAY: We easily understand the concept of investing in our children by meeting their physical needs, going to great lengths to fund Christian schools and making sure Sunday schools and other youth activities are available at church. We do this primarily to ensure our faith is passed down and secondarily to make sure our kids have the resources to be successful in this world. Certainly parents would make these sacrifices no matter what, but this chapter reminds us there's something in it for the parents as well. Grown children should repay their parents in their old age, for this is pleasing to God (v4).
FAITH IS MORE THAN WORDS: In Romans 10, Paul shows how easy it is to have saving faith: "If you declare with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." That's all it takes to be a Christian, but there's more. True faith will express itself not just in words, but in actions. In today's chapter, Paul shows that no matter what your words say, if you don't put your faith into action by caring for your own household, you "have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever (v8)."
CHURCH COMES FIRST: This letter to Pastor Timothy shows that the assembly of God's people must be the first priority at every stage of life. Young boys must aspire to be elders in the church when they get older (3:1), and young girls must present themselves modestly (2:9-10). Men like Timothy should "treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters (v2)." Young widows as well must put the church first by seeking remarriage if possible rather than either becoming a burden to the church or following their passions, which leads to Satan (v13-15). Although everybody finds themself in very different particular situations, the answer to every dilemma in life for Christians is simple: put God's people first.
NOT THE CHURCH'S PROBLEM: It might seem like the Church has a huge responsibility to care for the poor and lonely in our communities, but v16 makes clear that the Church is only responsible to care for her own people. That seems selfish and un-Christian, until you look at the bigger picture. The Church's primary responsibility is to communicate God's grace to His people, which builds their faith. Then as individual Christians, we ought to be "putting our religion [faith] into practice by caring for our own family (v4)" as well as meeting the needs of our communities in general.
If the Church gets sidetracked from this primary task of communicating grace, then faith will not be built, and people will not put it into practice individually. Why should they if the Church will do it for them? In general, churches in our society are becoming far more involved in social issues than in proclaiming the gospel these last fifty years. Do you think that individuals are more or less actively involved in caring for their communities as a result?
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The God who cares for His people, and pleased when His children care for each other (v4)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to help you "to put your religion into practice (v4)" in all areas of your life
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Put your hope in God and continue night and day to pray and ask God for help (v5)