Thursday, January 26, 2023

2023.01.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 5:5–10

Read 1 Timothy 5:5-10

Questions from the Scripture text: What woman is 1 Timothy 5:5 talking about? In what condition has she been left (verse 5, i.e., without children or grandchildren, cf. 1 Timothy 5:4)? What is her security? What is her occupation? When does she do this supplicating and praying? What does 1 Timothy 5:6 call the life of a widow who does something else? What condition is she in? What is the church to do with this teaching (1 Timothy 5:7a)? With what desired result for widows and families (verse 7b)? For whom is one to provide (1 Timothy 5:8)? Especially which ones? If he doesn’t, then what does he deny? What condition does this put him in? What widows mustn’t be put on the list (1 Timothy 5:9a)? For those over 60, what must they have done (1 Timothy 5:9-10)? Which good works in specific? Which others?

How does one who has “learned to show piety at home” show that piety when she becomes a widow? 1 Timothy 5:5–10 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that a true widow is left only with God, but has learned a fellowship with Him that gives her more than enough to do with her time/life. 

Piety begins at home for the minister (or congregant) who wishes to speak respectfully in the congregation (1 Timothy 5:1). Piety begins at home for children and grandchildren whom God gives the opportunity to repay their parents (1 Timothy 5:4). And piety begins (1 Timothy 5:5) and stays (cf. 1 Timothy 5:13) at home for true widows.

Whom do they have left at home? If they’re a true widow(?)… none. She who is really a widow has been left alone. But not entirely alone. She hopes (better translation than “trusts”) in God. She’s content with Him; she isn’t hoping for more than Him. So, she doesn’t need more to have.

She also doesn’t need more to do. She might not have a husband to obey and serve (1 Timothy 5:9b, cf. 1 Timothy 5:14a, Titus 2:4a). She might not have children to love and rear (cf. 1 Timothy 5:14b, Titus 2:4b). She might no longer be equipped to take strangers in to lodge them, particularly road-weary saints whose feet to wash (1 Timothy 5:10, Titus 2:5a). But she still has One upon Whom to attend. And she loves to make every sort of prayer (summarized under the pair “supplications and prayers”) at every sort of time (summarized under the pair “night and day”), 1 Timothy 5:5.

This life of piety finds its pleasure not in indulging itself but in God. There are those who would rather indulge themselves than take the God-given opportunity to provide for their own, and especially of their own household. This living unto self is denounced by 1 Timothy 5:8 as “denying the faith and worse than an unbelievers.” And there are those who would rather indulge themselves than live night and day in supplications and prayers. This living unto self is denounced by 1 Timothy 5:6 as being “dead while she lives.”

The apostle’s concern is that the minister’s and church’s concern would be the spiritual well-being of all. That they would Titus 2:5 all learn to have their hope in God, that they would all learn to live unto Him instead of unto self (cf. Psalm 78:7Titus 2:5b). “Command and teach these things that they may be blameless” (1 Timothy 5:7, cf. Psalm 78:5–6).  The church is not to help children/grandchildren deny the faith, nor is it to help widows who don’t care to live a life of prayer end up with too much time on their hands and live in a dead way.

It takes years of maturing through a life in which there is little time for much else but service to get her to this point. In fact, even in a congregation where this kind of godliness for younger women and wives is practiced, the assumption is that it will still take those decades to mature her to the spiritual place of 1 Timothy 5:5. The apostle flatly says not to enroll any woman who is under 60 (1 Timothy 5:9a). 

Indeed, being put on the list would be a crown of dignity, attesting the Lord’s gracious work in her and through her over the course of a lifetime. And what an opportunity that then becomes for the church that has the privilege of providing a dignified life for such a royal lady in Israel. For wives and mothers (and single ladies who are commanded to seek marriage and children, cf. 1 Timothy 5:14), it is much-needed to have such royal older ladies in the church, who are godly examples (cf. Titus 2:3) unto the admonishment of the younger (cf. Titus 2:4). May these much-needed ladies be accordingly treasured and cared for by their churches!

What older ladies do you know who live in the contentment and service described in this passage? How are they being taken care of? How are you (or the younger ladies in your life) living a sort of life that makes progress toward that level of maturity by the age of 60? Who has been assigned to you in your life? What do your roles/relations to them require of you? How are you fulfilling them as a life-mission of service unto God?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for putting us in our places and relations so that we may practice our piety first at home. Forgive us for begrudging our service to them. For doing that service half-heartedly and half-way. Truly, we know constantly the tendency toward denying the faith and being worse than unbelievers. Forgive us for how we are not contented with You. In truth, very few of us can endure in prayer for an hour, let alone night and day. How close we come to living for pleasure, how close to being dead even while we live! But You have not only atoned for us in Christ, but You work in us by Your Spirit over the course of our lives to work in us that contentment and love and service. Continue and complete that work in us we pray, through Christ, AMEN!

ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear the Lord” or TPH128B “Blest the Man That Fears Jehovah”

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