Prayer and fasting 21 days – 1 Tim 5
By Ps Simon Smailus
Paul moves on to the importance of relationships in the church and gives some great advice: we are to treat everyone as part of our family. After all the church is Christ’s body.
Quite often when we have difficult things to discuss it is not the subject that is the problem, but how things are said and done. Paul sets some good guidelines. Our approach should be to treat the person we are going to talk to about some difficult issue as we would a family member. What matters is that we treat others with respect.
Lord, open my eyes to see others as You see them; open my heart to love and respect others.
The chapter contains much practical advice of various kinds but the common thread is treating people with honour and respect. Widows who seem poor and powerless are to be honoured. Elders (which in the New Testament might mean the Ephesians 4 “five-fold” ministries overseeing churches in a city/region) are worthy of double honour if they preach and teach well. The word “honour” implies financial blessings in this context.
In All Nations we are seeking to develop a culture that encourages the Holy Spirit to come and to remain with us through seven values. This chapter reminds us of our second and fourth values:
2. Authentic Community, valuing relationship above gift and function.
4. To cultivate the kingdom lifestyle of Honour and Generosity.
In all aspects of church life we value relationships with each other and honour all people!
There is a large section in the chapter dealing with widows. The church has always had a responsibility to help those in financial difficulty. It is expressed here in the care for widows but there is also a broader theme in the Bible to care for the poor and needy. What is surprising is the detail of the criteria before a widow is to receive help and the responsibility of the widow’s family in helping the widow first and not expecting the church to do it. How does this apply? The church is often called upon to help those in financial need. Paul here urges us to be wise and not just to give indiscriminately. The particular role of the widow is further expanded in Paul’s letter to Titus:
(4) These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, (5) to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. —Titus 2:4–5, NLT
Widows are ideally positioned to train younger women. There is no retirement or unemployment in God’s Kingdom: everyone has a role to play. The key thing, however, is that the widow must demonstrate true Christian character. There is a strong temptation for those with no job to spend their time gossiping, which Paul prohibits strongly. These may seem obvious and simple points, but they demonstrate the work of the gospel and the importance of our conduct as disciples in all situations.
It’s not just how we turn up to a church service that matters, but how we handle ourselves on the telephone, Facebook and when we are talking with others. God wants us to be godly (like Him) at all times! There is an important role for godly, retired believers in training, mentoring and helping younger believers. The qualification for this job is godly Christian character.