Christian welfare is simple: within the Church, those who can must care for those who can't.
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1 Timothy 5 (ESV)
1 Do not rebuke an older man
but encourage him
as you would a father,
younger men as brothers,
2 older women as mothers,
younger women as sisters,
in all purity.
3 Honor widows who are truly widows.
4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren,
let them first learn
to show godliness to their own household
and to make some return to their parents,
for this is pleasing in the sight of God.
5 She who
is truly a widow,
left all alone,
has set her hope on God
and continues in supplications and prayers night and day,
6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.
7 Command these things as well,
so that they may be without reproach.
8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives,
and especially for members of his household,
has denied the faith
and is worse than an unbeliever.
9 Let a widow be enrolled
if she is not less than sixty years of age,
having been the wife of one husband,
10 and having a reputation for good works:
has brought up children,
has shown hospitality,
has washed the feet of the saints,
has cared for the afflicted,
and has devoted herself to every good work.
11 But refuse to enroll younger widows,
for when their passions draw them away from Christ,
they desire to marry
12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith.
13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers,
going about from house to house,
and not only idlers,
but also gossips and busybodies,
saying what they should not.
14 So I would have younger widows
manage their households,
and give the adversary no occasion for slander.
15 For some have already strayed after Satan.
16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows,
let her care for them.
Let the church not be burdened,
so that it may care for those who are truly widows.
17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor,
especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
18 For the Scripture says,
“You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,”
and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
19 Do not
admit a charge against an elder
except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
20 As for those who persist in sin,
rebuke them in the presence of all,
so that the rest may stand in fear.
21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules
doing nothing from partiality.
22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands,
nor take part in the sins of others;
keep yourself pure.
23 (No longer drink only water,
but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)
24 The sins of some people are conspicuous,
going before them to judgment,
but the sins of others appear later.
25 So also
good works are conspicuous,
and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.
1 Timothy 5 Summary
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 themselves in very different particular situations, the answer to every dilemma in life for Christians is simple: put God's people first.
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?
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father God provides care for all of His children, young and old.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for the strength to care for those in your own family, and to also provide for those who are truly in need.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: