Topic: New Testament Passage: 1 Timothy 5:1–5:2
Charge – 1 Timothy 5:1-16 Family Values
Good morning! We are continuing our series Charge, a study of1 Timothy, the Apostle Paul’s letter to a young pastor in the church of Ephesus, about the defining characteristics of the church and their Pastors. Paul began the letter with telling Timothy to hold firmly to true doctrine he has been taught and to defend the church from false teachers who seek to devour the flock like wolves. (Gospel Truth/Prophet) moves on to practical instructions regarding the churches role in the world and how it should be structured (Gospel Mission/King). In chapter five, he reminds the new pastor his roll doesn’t stop at truth and mission, but includes loving and serving the church as a family (Gospel Community/Priest).
The people of God are not a family by birth, but by new birth through faith Jesus Christ. They are not a loose social association you can freely join or leave or even one you may otherwise chose to be a part of. We when we become members of God’s family we come into a restored relationship with our Heavenly Father. You are saved as in individual and enter with others as members of new family making our relationship to God and his people primary. There is a kinship, affection, and duty shared among God’s family that can supersede that of your family. Unfortunately, just like in our families, sin enters the church family. Sin kills individuals, it kills relationships, kills families and even kills churches. Sin corrupts relationships, creates division, and leaves countless hurt and vulnerable people in its wake. How God’s family corporately and individually deals with sin is a Gospel issues.
As a pastor, Timothy isn’t to think of himself as CEO, a general, or coach, although he may at times serve those practical functions. He is first and foremost a member of Family of God and is to interact with the church, like Jesus did, as loving, concerned, and sacrificial son and brother. The health or success of a pastor, a family, or church is not displayed exclusively by doctrinal purity or the success of the mission, but how relationships and responsibilities with-in God’s people are defined and lived out.
Family/church relationships should be characterized by mutual respect, patience, intimacy, care, humility, love. Instead relationships are often defined by pride, mistrust, division, rivalry, and even lust. As a young pastor, Timothy is called lovingly confront/correct sin in people of various ages and genders with a hope of repentance, reconciliation, and restoration. Paul gives him guidelines for how to navigate difficult relational situations while maintaining both respect for the individual and the truth.
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father: Paul told Timothy a few verses early to not let anyone despise him for his youth, here he reminds him to not be prideful about it either. We can often act as if history started the day they were born and function as if our generation is the only one that is “relevant”. Adding education or a position of leadership can lead to arrogance, causing us to interact with older men without the proper respect/dignity. The Bible is clear we are to honor our father/mother, including the Ten Commandments. Even when confronting sin, younger men are to treat older men in the church respectably even when they don’t deserve respect. Being verbally harsh, seeking to embarrass or defame is contrary to family love. This doesn’t mean the sin of older men is accepted, ignored, or worse, hidden. In the weakness of sin, older men should be encouraged and strengthened by younger men seeking to restore/maintain their honor/dignity. (Noah)
20 years ago in my own family, it was discovered that my grandfather had abused my sister and that my grandmother had knowingly covered it up in hopes of maintaining the relationship with our family. While parents were careful protected me and my sister from them, in the year to follow they served them and continue to serve them through a variety of health issues. When I asked her why we we’re helping people that sinned so grievously against our family, she told me “God tells us to honor our father and mother, he doesn’t say only if they deserve it. Besides Christ didn’t give his life for us as sinner because we deserve it, he gave us grace because we don’t deserve it.” Older men, are you respectable/honorable? Younger men are you respectful?
Younger Men as Brothers: When I was in the Fraternity we were “brothers”, who treated each other like garbage constantly tearing each other down full of rivalry and pride. As a freshman “pledge”, and the only way you could be considered worthy to be a brother was to go through all the pain/challenges the older members when through when they were pledges. The next year you would make sure pledges went though the same or worse. As brothers in the Gospel we’re justified not by or pain or works but by Christ suffering on our behalf. In the Family of God the older brothers, don’t orchestrate equal pain or challenges for the younger brothers, they act as guides through a mine field to help younger brothers to avoid the explosiveness of sin. From their pain and missteps they lovingly cry out “Don’t step there! It looks safe but it goes badly!” Younger brothers would do well to look at the scars and wounds of older brothers as warnings to be heeded, all may look safe but there is danger ahead. This requires two things of the older brother: First, he needs to see his scars for what they are, battle wounds from his past rebellion, and not glorify past sin. Second, he must be humble enough to show is scars to his brothers with the hope they may avoid his fate. What are your scars do you have? Are you so ashamed that you’re letting younger brothers walk blind though a mine field? Younger brothers need the humility to admit they’re in a minefield and not be so prideful to think they’ll make it though unharmed by their own will. When did you last seek counsel of an older brother?
Older Women as Mothers: Paul knows treating older women as mothers will resonate with Timothy as he was raised to love Jesus by his Grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. Mothers are to be respected, listened to, and loved. This doesn’t mean that they are exempt from sin or pastoral correction. What it does mean is that when necessary to admonish an older woman one should do so as an adult son would with an erring mother. You don’t pick petty differences to argue with your mother about. I have failed at this countless times arguing with my mom on points of doctrine and what is and isn’t part of the mission of the church forgetting that we’re are part of the same family and I am her son. If you are going to confront the women who bore and raised you, you better have a good reason approaching them delicately, with wisdom and humility.
Younger Women as Sisters in all Purity: The key praise is “in all purity”, both in conformity in all of God’s moral law and specifically in regards to sexual purity. In the OT, brothers took the protection of their sister’s sexual purity incredibly seriously. While not a prescriptive story, in Gen 34, Dinah’s brothers (Simeon and Levi) took their swords to Shechem and all the men in his city to avenge him raping their sister. The protection of sexual purity of sisters in Christ should be of equal concern to Christian men as it should if it were there own sisters. Paul instruction could not be more vivid, for a Christian man to sin sexually with a Christian woman is to commit spiritual incest, and it is reprehensible! Bottom line, if a young women is not your BRIDE, she is your SISTER. I believe, Paul instructs Timothy regarding his relationships with younger women last because these relationships have the greatest danger of destroying his ministry and witness of the Gospel. Pastors can’t compromise/ disqualify their ministry by having an inappropriate relationship with a sister in Christ. Pastors are to lead young women from sin, not deeper into sin. In the past year, my heart has been broken by two particular instances of pastors sinning with younger women, destroying their family, disqualifying their ministry, and harming the church.
A young pastor, with a church plant similar to ours, slept with his young married female assistant, ending two marriages. A year later he is planting another church.
Pastor of thirty years, who’s wife has had a degenerative disease for 20 years, had an emotional affair with young women, the age of his adult daughter, he had been counseling for a year. His adult children are now caring for their mom, the church is without there lead pastor and legacy of 30 years of fruitful ministry is now tarnished.
As members of God’s family we have a responsibility to meet the needs of others, and especially to those that have been left alone and are unable to fully care for themselves. Paul makes it very clear how responsibility is to be divided within the church family corporately and individually. God, as a loving father, has great concern for the most vulnerable, particularly widows and orphans, and calls as to as well.
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation Ps 68:5
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows, in their affliction, James 1:27
In English, the word widow(er) is very specifically a woman who’s husband has died and has not remarried. The Greek the word chera includes this meaning, but is not limited to it. It is descriptive word meaning robbed, having suffered loss, deprived, or left alone. The original meaning doesn’t describe how a woman is left alone; it identifies the condition of being alone that is broad enough to include women who are without a husband from death, divorce, or desertion the last two being a result of sin in one or both parties. Sin is a widowmaker. In our context today, single mothers are the most common form of widow and are to be included the when we look at the biblical considerations and instructions. The number of single mothers is increasing each year. In 2005, 13.6 million single parents, 84% (11.4 million) are single mothers. 44% divorced, 22 % separated, 33% never married, 1% “widowed”
V3 Honor widows who are truly widows. V5-6 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has sent her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.
Corporately, the church and pastors are instructed to discriminate among the large number of people/widows who claim needing support to determine which of those are worthy of support from the church’s limited resources. The church family is not to act as a blind social welfare system freely granting support to any that express need. Pastors use discernment on how they will spend the kingdom’s/family’s time, energy, and resources, that should be reserved for true widows based on need and godliness.
Truly Needy: Those that have been left truly all alone. They have no immediate or extended family that is willing or able to provide the care and support they require. Hopeless without family support they are very much “single” and left in a permanent condition of being forsaken and without resources. It is the responsibility of God’s family to fill this void. For those alone with financial means, the church should still provide spiritual and emotional support for widows as their “first family.”
Truly Godly: They have fixed there hope on God and God alone. They have a genuine faith in God, that he will meet them in their pain and fulfill his promises to care for widows in there affliction. They not only seek care and provision but they worship and commune with their heavenly Father “Night and Day”, a Jewish idiom meaning “constantly” or “all the time”. Simply put they are faithful to God and His family. They do not use there status as victims as excuse to abandon their faith, pursuing their own desires with no consideration for right or wrong and influencing others.
V13 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. V15 For some have already strayed after Satan.
The church is not to spend kingdom resources on sinful lifestyles. These widows are to be abandoned to the consequences of their sin, while the church prays for their repentance, waiting, ready to respond should they come to Christ.
While the church is called corporately to support godly widows who are truly alone and without hope, it is the charge of each individual Christian to live out the Gospel and fulfill their responsibilities to provide for their own relatives.
V4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to there own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.
V8 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.
As individuals, our membership in the family of God is to be paramount, but it does not negate the responsibility we have to provide for our families. The church has a responsibility to those that are left alone, not do the job individuals will not. Paul has choice words for the Christian that doesn’t live up to basic responsibility to his family that pagans and even animals fulfill. The Greco-Roman world had a dowry system sent up to provide for financial security of widows. The Greek philosopher Philo, when speaking about care for loved ones noted, “When old storks become unable to fly, they remain in their nests and are fed by there children.” William Barclay writes, it was accent Greek law that people were both morally and legally obligated to support family members, those that didn’t meet their responsibilities lost their civil rights.
Our culture today is the opposite, we are one of individuals that give deep concern to their rights but give little concern to their responsibilities. Our county has a bill of rights not responsibilities. People in general, and men especially do all that they can to avoid responsibility or inconvenience. Young men live with their mothers caring for them longer and longer, while people are waiting later in life to get a married and postpone having children. We live with a sense of entitlement that we have a right to pursue our own temporary selfish happiness, rather than a sense of duty and sacrifice to those around us. You are called to specific a people, if you’re a man that means God’s method for providing for your family is YOU! It is easy to say “I would die for my family” because you will likely never be called to. It is difficult to die each day to your selfish desired to live sacrificially to provide for those God has entrusted to you.
We have to look at our responsibilities as more than just white knuckled duty. If we have a new heart and a new life in Christ, the needs of those in our family should move our hearts to willing service. Providing for the needs of our family is more than just food, shelter, and other material needs. We are to provide love and leadership, as well as, emotionally and spiritually. This is not always easy but should come from a true heart seeks carries the burdens and share the joys your family is experiencing.
When was the last time you cared more about your responsibilities than your rights?
V9-10 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having reputation of 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.
Being a left alone as a widow/single mom does not mean God is finished using that person in the service of his family. There is a dignity in giving service in the family where support has been received. It is believed the early church had an “order of widows” that served in prayer, nursing the sick, caring for orphans, visiting imprisoned believers, as well as evangelizing and teaching new Christian women. With Pilgrim Africa, Christian widows live in orphanages helping to raise and care for AIDS orphans. At DR some of our most faithful people that serve in Kids Road are single mothers. Some have been blessed with remarriage. Others continue setting an example of godly service, loving Jesus, loving their kids, and loving our church family.
Mormons and Muslims can preach on the virtues of a spiritual family. Pagans and animals understand the importance of caring for the needs of their relatives. What sets Christians apart is the cross. We are a family brought together by the Cross where Jesus took responsibility for our sin. From the Cross, Jesus demonstrated the ultimate act of service to undeserving and ungrateful people. It was on the cross that he had two final acts of ministry. To the crucified thief, who put his faith in Jesus he said “Today you will be with me in Paradise” He’s saying “your adopted into the family, your separation is over and your going to be united with your father in heaven enjoying the fullness of your inheritance. Lastly, he made arrangements for John to take care of his Mother. Telling Mary “Woman behold your son!” and to John “Behold your mother.” While bearing the sins of the world Jesus heart was concerned with relationship of one more sinner coming into the family of God and the responsibility of care of one widow. If you don’t know Jesus, know that he cares a much for you as the thief and his own mother.
We give our tithes and offerings to meet our responsibility to our church family and provide resources for those we are corporately called to care for.
We take the cup of Christ’s blood and bread of Jesus broken body, as family sitting around the dinner table sharing the meal of our reconciliation to God and each other.
We sing joyous songs to our Father as we anxiously await a family reunion in heaven.
Benediction Ephesians 1:3-14