November 8, 2021
Rev. Dr. Carole R. Martin
Retired Clergy, First Broad Street UMC
1 Timothy 5:1-8 (Common English Bible)5 Don’t correct an older man, but encourage him like he’s your father; treat younger men like your brothers, 2 treat older women like your mother, and treat younger women like your sisters with appropriate respect.
3 Take care of widows who are truly needy. 4 But if a particular widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn to respect their own family and repay their parents, because this pleases God. 5 A widow who is truly needy and all alone puts her hope in God and keeps on going with requests and prayers, night and day. 6 But a widow who tries to live a life of luxury is dead even while she is alive. 7 Teach these things so that the families[a] will be without fault. 8 But if someone doesn’t provide for their own family, and especially for a member of their household, they have denied the faith. They are worse than those who have no faith.
9 Put a widow on the list who is older than 60 years old and who was faithful to her husband. 10 She should have a reputation for doing good: raising children, providing hospitality to strangers, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in distress, and dedicating herself to every kind of good thing. 11 But don’t accept younger widows for the list. When their physical desires distract them from Christ, they will want to get married. 12 Then they will be judged for setting aside their earlier commitment. 13 Also, they learn to be lazy by going from house to house. They are not only lazy, but they also become gossips and busybodies, talking about things they shouldn’t. 14 So I want younger widows to marry, have children, and manage their homes so that they won’t give the enemy any reason to slander us. (15 Some have already turned away to follow Satan.) 16 If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should take care of them and not burden the church, so that it can help other widows who are truly needy.
Instructions for elders17 Elders who lead well should be paid double, especially those who work with public speaking and teaching. 18 The scripture says, Don’t put a muzzle on an ox while it treads grain,[b] and Workers deserve their pay.[c] 19 Don’t accept an accusation made against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses. 20 Discipline those who are sinning in front of everyone so that all the others will be afraid. 21 I charge you before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels to follow these practices without bias, and without playing favorites. 22 Don’t rush to commission anyone to leadership, and don’t participate in the sins of others. Keep yourself morally pure.
23 Don’t drink water anymore, but use a little wine because of your stomach problems and your frequent illnesses. 24 The sins of some people are obvious, and the sins are judged before the people must face judgment, but the sins of other people show up later. 25 In the same way, the good that people do is also obvious and can’t be hidden.
DevotionDon’t correct an older man, but encourage him like he’s your father; treat younger men like your brothers, treat older women like your mother, and treat younger women like your sisters with appropriate respect.
Take care of widows who are truly needy. But if a particular widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn to respect their own family and repay their parents, because this pleases God. A widow who is truly needy and all alone puts her hope in God and keeps on going with requests and prayers, night and day. But a widow who tries to live a life of luxury is dead even while she is alive. Teach these things so that the families will be without fault. But if someone doesn’t provide for their own family, and especially for a member of their household, they have denied the faith. They are worse than those who have no faith.
Family in FaithI’ve spent the past few days in Hannibal, MO, with my family of origin. My dad is moving – downsizing to a smaller home. Five of us – Mom, Dad, my brother, sister, and I – all moved into the current house in 1973. The children grew up, graduated, and moved away. The house remained the family hub for nearly 50 years. After Mom passed away in June, Dad decided he was ready for something easier to take care of. The past couple of months have been a scramble of getting things ready to move to the new place, as well as determine who might want to have what didn’t go into the smaller condo. As one might imagine, it hasn’t been easy.
So it is in the church – the family of God. In these few verses from 1 Timothy, Paul is encouraging Timothy, a young pastor, how to be the pastor of a multi-generational church. According to one commentary, instructions should be given in a way that all members of this family would be committed to each other’s welfare and well-being. Corrections are to be given in ways that comfort and build up the individual and the whole community.
Careful attention is to be paid to those who had the least means of support, and relief is to be distributed fairly, yet without encouraging dependency. Given that in most churches, resources are limited and dependent on the ability of others for support, discernment is required to know who truly needs help the most.
Jesus offers additional help. After he had washed his disciples feet, Jesus gave them further instructions: “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” (John 13:34-35 CEB) We are to love one another. Period. And sometimes it’s hard. Still, God calls us to do good to and for and with one another. Yet, far too often, we allow our differences to divide us, diverting our attention away from the needs in front of us. Far too often, personal preferences get in the way of our seeing the bigger picture. If our faith doesn’t result in loving actions, then how are we representing Christ to the world? How will anyone know that we follow Jesus if we can’t show love?
My dad is now settling into his new place. At one time or another over the past several days, there were as many as 15 of us – children, in-laws, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren – doing what they could to help accomplish the move. Mostly, we worked out of our strengths, each one doing what she or he was best able to do. Occasionally, we got on each other’s nerves. In the midst of the chaos, we still paused to share meals together – briefly anyway, and then we got back at it to accomplish the bulk of move. Whew! It was hard work, but we did it, accomplishing far more than if we had not been able to work together.
May it be so in all of the family of God! Working together for good, regardless of ages and perspectives. Because of love – Jesus told us to.