This chapter gives instructions for the church’s care of widows (vss. 3, 5-7, 9-16), the responsibility for families to care for their own members (vv. 4,8), and continues Paul’s instructions to Timothy about not being “hasty” to put someone in leadership (vss. 22-25).
Paul said the body of Christ should help provide for those who are “really widows.” Who are they and what might that look like? How do both the government and the church play a part in their care?
Also, read about the cost of obedience, what it has cost others, and what Jesus said about the cost of not standing up for the truth.
It happens to us all. Maybe he’s standing on the street corner with a cardboard sign. Maybe it’s a friend or a co-worker. Maybe it’s a grown son or daughter. They need a loan. Or another loan. Or just a little help. Maybe it doesn’t seem right, but there’s the guilt. You wonder … what is the right thing to do?
In today’s reading we see a great picture of God’s attitude toward giving and caring for one another. God commanded the nation of Israel “open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need (v. 15.8). Then every seven years there was to be a release of debts and a release of servants from their bondage.
One definition of biblical love is “a sacrificial action for the benefit of another and the glory of God without expecting anything in return.” That’s the kind of love we’re to have for one another—not a love based on feelings, but a love that is active and rooted in our love for God.
Does that Mean Believers Should Always Lend or Give to Anyone Who Asks?
I believe one of the greatest tragedies of our nation’s system of welfare and all the other programs we offer is that these things are not in the hands of the church. That’s partly because the church has not done what she should have. By the church, I mean us—you and me. Imagine what churches could do if everyone tithed and gave to the work of God! Instead, only a fraction of God’s people give faithfully.
God intended for us to care for one another in the context of the church family. That requires knowing one another, knowing the issues, knowing the struggles, knowing the circumstances, knowing what is really needed, knowing when to help and when NOT to help.
Because programs are not administered by people who know the one seeking help, our system has left room for fraud and abuse and often does more harm than good.