Title: The Treatment of Members: Confronting & Caring
Text: 1 Timothy 5. 3-16
Introduction: Confronting and Caring. The two words really come together well. Consider this: if you don’t care about someone, you’re not going to confront them in their error. If you don’t care about them, then you don’t care about what will happen to them. Let them perish in their folly. But, if you care, then you’ll want to protect them and help them see the error in their way.
It is interesting to me that Paul moves from confronting people in the church to caring for people in the church. I think that is because they’re close to the same thing.
We pick up where we left off last week – in the discussion of older women, in particular, widows. You probably remember Paul’s commands concerning confronting members.
I. Confronting Members (1-2)
- Confronting Older Men (v 1)
- Confronting Younger Men (v 1)
- Confronting Older Women (v 2)
- Confronting Younger Women (v 2)
exp.: as sisters, in all purity; probably just with this last phrase; a 2nd reminder of the moral responsibility as a man of God;
app.: The Context is that for a pastor, don’t lash out at people; There is an appropriate way to handle problems we have with members; Timothy isn’t to Lord it over them just because he’s the pastor. But instead, he is to confront these brothers and sisters in Christ with respect and dignity and honor (5th commandment);
I don’t think this is just for a young pastor. We can be this way with each other. We should be, right?
Paul turns his attention to another situation in Ephesus, which is point #2:
II. Caring for Widows (3-8)
exp.: rd v 3; I don’t know about you, but I’m like: Truly Widows? Isn’t the definition of a widow pretty clear?
1. Truly a Widow (really, indeed)
exp.: truly; Lk 23:47 – this really was an innocent man; Lk 24:34 – The Lord is really risen; Jn 8:36 – If the Son sets you free indeed; Mark 11.32 – John was truly a prophet. What Paul is saying here is that there are women who have lost their husbands, but they aren’t in desperate need that other women who’ve lost their husbands are! I don’t think he’s being mean or harsh. Paul is trying to not overload the work of the church. Think about this for a moment: a woman in that culture didn’t work like men did. We do find women working and we find them in leadership, but for the overwhelming majority of the women, when they lost their husbands, they lost their livelihood. So, Paul breaks down the need into categories. He identifies those who are truly needy and those living without necessities – a woman who needed care. To clarify, Paul list three categories or ‘types of widows’.
2. Types of Widows
- Widow w/ family (4)
exp.: rd v 4a; a widow who has family, both children and/or grandchildren; ‘them‘ is a plural pronoun, which I believe points back to the children and grandchildren; ‘widow’ is singular here. Let the children and grandchildren care for her – and return to them the same care she gave them;
Consider what she has done for them over the years. It’s time to reciprocate. How many diapers has she changed? How many ‘bottoms’ has she wiped and cleaned? How many meals has she cooked for them? How many times has she cared for them when they were sick? Cleaned up vomit? Spit up? Held them, cried for them, prayed over them? She didn’t do it thinking someday they’ll return the favor. She did it out of love.
It’s time now for her children and grandchildren to show that same love to her; rd 4b; this is pleasing in the sight of God; godliness and obedience; it’s how you honor them.
- Widow w/ no family (5)
exp.: rd v 5a; a widow who is truly a widow has no family (μονόω), we get our word ‘mono’ for the singular; monologue; monotonous; she’s alone.
– Alone: has no concern except for the Lord; her family is the church and the church should care for her;
– She is concerned for the affairs of God; So, God’s family should take her in and care for her;
- Widow w/ finances (6)
exp.: rd v 6; a widow who is self-sufficient, wealthy, resources; lit.: living in luxury; contrast the widow whose concern is the church and the woman whose concern is her own selfishness; she may have no family, but she has her money and her things;
3. Teach these Warnings (7-8)
exp.: rd v 7, who is the ‘they’; v 8 (4, 16); The family; If she has relatives, they are responsible for her; if they don’t care for her, then that is a poor witness; they’ve done two things: denied the faith, worse than an unbeliever; opposite of v 4; ungodly; disobedient; no honor; isn’t better to be an unbeliever and be seen as an unbeliever than to be a believer and bring harm to the body as a poor witness?
t.s.: Paul moves quickly to “the list”
III. Criteria for Widowhood (9-16)
exp.: rd v 9-10; So, it appears that there is a list of those widows who should be cared for. This is good. We need a group of folks in our church who take on this responsibility – to organize those who are truly widows and then to organize care and concern – to lead the church in this matter. There needs to be some organization – a list is made. That list can then begin to tackle or take on specific needs. Screens that need repair, vehicles that need to be made ready for summer, that these widows are being watched over in the COVID-19 era. What is this List? The List: There seems to have been an official ‘order of widows’. These women had certain requirements and if the church had been supported by these ladies, then, by all means, the church should care for them. Titus 2:3-5;
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
ill.: J. MacArthur: Their duties surely included helping with the baptism of women, visiting the sick, visiting prisoners, teaching and discipling younger women, helping younger women rear and nurture their children, and providing hospitality for visitors and strangers. They may have also assisted in placing orphans into proper Christian homes. That was a very important ministry in the Roman world since orphaned or abandoned children wound up as slaves, and often as prostitutes or gladiators. With their own husbands gone and their children grown, those widows had the time to pursue such essential ministries.
That such a group of widows existed in the early church is known from extra-biblical sources. In the late first and early second centuries, Ignatius and Polycarp wrote of such an order. Tertullian, who lived in the latter part of the second and early part of the third century, also mentioned it. The third-century document known as the Didascalia and the fourth century ‘Apostolic Constitutions’ also refer to an order of widows.
– Three Criteria to make the List (9-10)
- Service (good works)
- Brought up her children; this isn’t necessarily in the order of preference or prominence, but it definitely deserves some attention. Is there a greater task of importance than a mother to her children? Maybe to her husband?
- Washed feet
- Cared for the afflicted (θλίβω (thlibō) under pressure to squeeze; it means to be between a rock and a hard place)
- Devoted herself to these ‘good works’; good works are a demonstration of godliness in a woman’s life – they demonstrate her beauty.
IV. Caution/Urge Younger Widows to marry (11-15)
- Downward spiral
- Better to Marry
exp.: evidently, some of the widows have fallen for this false teaching in the church, they’ve chased after the things of this world and are causing trouble in the church.
There is something really interesting here that takes place throughout this chapter:
Aside: The order of people who care for widows: (16)
- Children and Grandchildren (v 4)
- Male Relatives (v 8)
- Female Relatives (v 16)
I don’t think this means that the church should ignore widows who have relatives who can care for them. But it does help us in regard to identifying widows in need and our responsibility to care for them.
So, what is Paul saying here:
1. Anyone can be led astray: Old, young; male, female. We’re all vulnerable to false teaching.
2. But, widows need particular attention, because they are preyed on by others.
– Widows, in particular, were targeted with false teaching in Ephesus.
But some of you might be asking about this because it isn’t what you see. What I mean is this: the government has taken over the responsibility to care for widows and orphans. And you know what, I’m grateful for those who saw the need and led out in caring for those folks. I’m grateful that our Christian virtues and ethics impacted our government.
But does that mean we ignore the command as given by God to the church? No, it doesn’t. The church needs to step up and care for her widows.
So, with this in mind, let me ask a question: Are you feeling a tug on your heart to care for the widows/widowers? – to make sure they’re ok? – to make sure they’re not being taken advantage of? Maybe the Lord is moving in your heart to step up to this task.
Ill.: Joanne Walker of Corvalis, Montana: Our wedding reception, in my parents’ home, ended late. Mom didn’t try to clean up until the next morning. To her dismay, there were cake crumbs everywhere! “How careless the guests were,” she thought to herself.
Until she went to the kitchen. There, still neatly stacked and clean, were the plates and forks–forgotten by my mother in the busyness of the preparations. In other words, with all of her work, she forgot to set out the very utensils needed to prevent such a mess. In her busyness, she forgot her business.
3. Busyness vs. Business
It’s easy to forget in the busyness of the church what the true business is: imaging God (being the Body of Christ). Let’s not get so busy with things that we overlook a very important part of our church: Our widows – those women (and I might add men) who are truly widows indeed.
Difference between the Y and the I; Busyness leads to questions: Why are their crumbs all over the floor, Why were people so careless? Business, true business leads to the I…what can I do, how can I help?