Everyone lives with some house rules. You institute these as a parent.
- “Walk don’t run down the hall!”
- “You used it; You clean it.”
- “No double dipping.”
- We have a sign in our kitchen that says, “No whining... ever.” A neighbor recently came over and saw the sign and freaked out like, “Oh no! What are they going to do to me?”
- Maybe you have a value your dad instilled in you “Jones don’t lie!” Let them other folk do what they want but we don’t do that.
- “We say what we mean and mean what we say. You are only as good as your word.”
Paul is writing this letter to Timothy, so that they might know how to act in the house of God. He is instructing them on prayer, teaching, and more. This passage gets at how we are to act as the household of God. In 1 tim 4:12 he told them to “set an example in faith, love, speech and purity.” This fills that out in some very specific ways.The household of God is to be distinguished in its love and respect for all people.
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, he 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: if she 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 marry, bear children, 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. (1 Timothy 5:1-16 ESV)
● Respect the Family
Christians are to show respect. We respect everyone. Even those we disagree with we are to love and respect them.
First we respect those who are older than us. Don’t rebuke an older man but encourage him as a father. Isn’t it great how Christ changes our relationships. He bring us into God’s family, and we have many brothers and sisters, and fathers and mothers. In the family of God we learn the respect we should show to all people.
Note how we treat the family. Treat older people like mother and father. Don’t rebuke. A rebuke is a strong expression of disapproval; could be to chastise with words. You are looking to alter a person’s behavior. It says not to do that with older people. We are to respect them and their place.
Young people need to hear this. Show respect to others in what you say, how you say it, and how you carry yourself. “Yes, sir.” “No mam.” Hold off on judgements. You can easily jump to conclusions. You need to realize that person has years of life experience and there may be a reason for them doing what they are. You need to respect that. I think about this with kids. Before I had kids I felt like I knew how to parent. I would go to the store and see kids acting crazy and think my kids will never do that. I was off base!
But respect doesn’t mean you don’t differ with them. Being older doesn’t mean you are always right. You offer correction that is encouraging. We need to be faithful brothers and sisters in Christ and share correction where appropriate. We need to do it with respect because as one commentator said, “Correction is a medicine that always has some bitterness.”
Let me talk for a minute on correction in general here. Too many people get angry and turn inside. They hold grudges rather than talk about it. You have a decision to make when you are offended by someone or see something wrong. You either 1) go to them in a respectful brotherly affection and share your concern with them, why they are offended or 2) you overlook the offense. Forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven you (Eph 4:2). Correcting your brother in gentleness/love (2 Tim 2:25). I see those categories in the Bible. The category I do not see is a Christian who holds a fault against another and refuses to tell them. That is sin. That will destroy a relationship. That is how grudges are started and nursed. It has no place in the family of God. If you think someone sinned or did something wrong then you go to them. This is important for the health of the family.
We treat older men and women with respect; and this also informs how we treat peers.
A key part of respecting one another is “all purity.” There should be pure motives in all you do; put aside pride, ambition, envy. That is a way to be pure, but this word clearly points to sexual purity. In the church, as Christians we relate to others in purity. You treat others as a brother or sister. Don’t do anything with your girlfriend that you wouldn’t do with your sister. Until she is your wife, she is your sister. There is not a third category of blurred sisterly/wife. This verse has led many people to say, I’m going to wait for marriage. Some have read it and said, “I’m not going to kiss her until I am married. This verse should set the bar for how you related to people of the opposite sex.
I read an article the other day about the increasing number of open relationships and it was written by a person who was coming out of that. She was sharing the hurt, the pain, the confusion, the lack of trust that came between her and her significant others. An open relationship and yet there was lying because you call it what it is but intimate relationship have a powerful affect, a powerful pull on your mind and emotions. We are to live in absolute purity with others.
When you see young men honor their elders and treat women with purity that is a powerful message. Women can do the same. That is a powerful message; it is a compelling message to the culture.
● Respect for the Weak
Honor Widows. to attribute high status to someone by honoring - 'to honor, to respect.' Two short verse for fathers and brothers and mothers and sisters, but fourteen verses on widows. God cares for the weak and destitute. We should too. God has a special place in his heart for widows, the poor and the weak.
Scripture has much to say of widows and orphans. Married couples can often be defined by their relationship to each other. When one dies it is like a part of you dies. You lose part of yourself. Moreover, in biblical times the husbands were the primary money earners and women took care of the children and home. Physical hardship. That could leave a woman very vulnerable. When a husband died she lost part of her identity and her means of provision. Widows and orphans were some of the most vulnerable people of the day. What do you do with this weak, disadvantaged people. Ignore them. Just move further from them and pray for them. Let them take their responsibility. No. You honor them. Care for them. Hold them in esteem!
James 1:27 says “religion that is pure and undefiled is to look after orphans and widows.” It’s pure because the only reason to do it is because God calls you to. It’s not tainted with other desires like maybe I’ ll get something out of it. Sometime you reach out or help people because of what they can do for you. You reach out to the wealthy, the famous, the reputable people because you like to be associated with them, they increase your reputation, they give a lot to your church. But orphans and widows there was no material gain, no increased reputation. It was done solely because it pleases God. We want to do the same at Bridgeway. There is a call to care for those in need. In the church, we care for the broken, the hurt, the suffering.
Taking care of the weak begins with taking care of your own family. You take care of your family. The Bible instructs us to honor our mother and father (Ex 20:12). We honor those who have cared for and provided for us. This is part of the ten commandments.
The church is to care for those truly in need. But before the church gets involved children and grandchildren provide care (v4). V8 shows that this is not an optional thing that we do. “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1Ti 5:8 ESV). Honoring parents and grandparents is a vital part of our faith. You don’t have to move overseas to do something great and amazing and incredibly faithful. Great faith is often doing the extraordinary in ordinary life.
Some of you are doing this right now. You are caring for others. For some of you it’s your family. For some of you it’s not your blood family but it is your adopted family. It is hard. But you need to know what you are doing is pleasing to God. Don’t think of all the other things you could be doing. Consider what is most important at this moment.
But to you widows, I also want to encourage you of what God has for you. God is with you. He has not abandoned you. In the early church widows took care of other widows, they met the needs of the poor, prepared young ladies for baptism. In this section widows are being qualified both to receive help but also to give help.
God is not through with you. In book of Acts, Tabitha “the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, "Please come to us without delay." 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them.” (Acts 9:38-39 ESV)
There was fruitful ministry for these older ladies whom society said was destitute. If you are an older believer I want to remind you that God has a purpose for you. I love hearing how some of our ladies are taking care of others, checking in on them, helping them with their needs. I love hearing how you are praying for the church.
You know we have been talking about getting out in the community, getting to know others, people volunteering for setup. We need some young backs and legs to do these things, but we are part of a body and some parts do different things. You may be in a season that you cannot do those things. I want to challenge you to serve the church like you have never served before, and it might be giving yourself to prayer. We need it as a church. I want to see God do something here that we will look back in five, ten, fifteen years and say it was not because of my brilliant leadership, it was not because of how good we were, it was just that God showed up.
A warning to the indulgent, busy bodies, idlers and gossipers. Live for what truly matter. Some of these widows would not qualify for support because of how they lived. It is very sobering. They lost their family. Were not living the way they should and they feel the consequences of it. It’s hard to do as a church when you can’t give to a person what they ask. But their greatest need is to trust in Christ. To turn away from living self indulgent lifestyles and serve God. Consider now how you might live. Give yourself to these noble causes. It doesn’t esteem making lots of money, hip dresses, talk of the town. Just like it doesn’t esteem those things in men.
Look at what Scripture esteems by what qualifies them to receive help. A Life well Lived. Look at what they are qualified with. having been the wife of one husband, v10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, “notes it does not say, If she have borne children (children are a heritage of the Lord),” has shown hospitality, “If she have lodged strangers, and “washed the saints’ feet;” if she have been ready to give entertainment to good Christians and good ministers, when they were in their travels for the spreading of the gospel.” Hospitality. These some of the basics of the faith. We don’t want to get to the end of life and realize we gave ourselves to the wrong things.
This is what Scripture esteems. This is what our lives and our household should be about.
- Our Missions Approach.
I didn’t plan it this way, but I want to talk for a bit about our missions strategy. Our mission team leaders met a last week and talked through some things and I think it relates to this issue.
We want to reach the community. We want to go after the lost. We want to help the hurting in this community. We do not want to do that at the expense of our own family. We want both: a vibrant outreach and a vibrant church community. We can’t get so consumed internally that we don’t go outward. And we don’t want to be so consumed with the lost that we neglect faithful members. Part of mission is going to people. Part of mission can be people coming into your house and noticing the difference in how you live. You let your light shine. Taking care of people inside has a powerful affect on those outside.
Continuum of Mission
Proclaiming the Gospel Demonstrate the Gospel
Personally Involved Behind Scenes
Let Light Shine Done in Secret
Grow Church Freely Give
I want each ministry, each small group balancing this. Some groups need to be told to get out and help the lost. At some point I hope we have a group that I am having to pull back from reaching out and take care of each other. We could use some of that. :-) but we will never strike a perfect balance. If your group isn’t reaching people then spend a meeting talking/brainstorming about what you need to do.
The church was sending people out on missions. They were opposing false teachers, Timothy was on church planting ventures. But they were also taking care of widows and positioning widows to minister to others. Everything is mission. We want to go abroad but we don’t want to neglect our own family. At the same time, we are not called to meet every whim of every person. This can bog down the church in mission. I have seen churches where member get so up in arms about small things in their house that they distract the whole church from what they are supposed to be doing.
Often times household rules are determined by your own experience. You grew up having people over for dinner and you want to have people over. Your family went through hard times and people helped you so you make a point to help others. Your dad got ripped off one time and it hurt and now so you make sure to instill honesty in your kids. As Christians, we have received grace, we have received a favor that we do not deserve and did not earn. God had compassion on us. That grace should overflow in respect, love, purity that we show to others. We are not looking to take advantage of them but rather to show the love of Christ to others. Let’s have that our household rule. And let’s be proactive in showing it to others.
- How can you show respect to those older than you (mothers and fathers)? To those younger than you (brothers and sisters)?
- How can you honor widows? Who do you see in need that often you could help?
- Why is it so important to prioritize your own family? How does taking care of them vary in different seasons of life?
- How does this passage encourage you to live for things that matter? How does the gospel encourage you