Thursday, February 02, 2023

2023.02.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 5:11–16

Read 1 Timothy 5:11–16

Questions from the Scripture text: Who must be refused to be put on the roll of full-time, praying widows (1 Timothy 5:11a)? In what direction would younger ladies on the roll be likely to progress (verse 11b)? What would they then desire (verse 11c)? Why would their particular desire to marry be condemning at that point (1 Timothy 5:12)? What additional detriment would come from their being on this roll (1 Timothy 5:13a)? Where would they go (verse 13b)? What would they add to their idleness (verse 13c)? What sorts of things would they say (verse 13d)? What three things should younger ladies do instead (1 Timothy 5:14)? What would they not give, to whom, to do what? How does 1 Timothy 5:15 describe idle young ladies, who hang out, and end up gossiping and saying wrong things? What might a believing male or female have (1 Timothy 5:16a)? What are they to do with widows if they have them (verse 16b)? What does this prevent from occurring (verse 16c)? What does this enable the church to do (verse 16d)?

What’s a young woman to do? 1 Timothy 5:11–16 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 young widows and young women should seek a life of God-designed labor to protect them from Satan and mature them. 

In 1 Timothy 5:5-10, the apostle gave instruction for adding to the payroll of widows over 60, who have learned to be content to fellowship with God night and day in prayer. One of the requirements was that this learning would be produced by decades of selfless labor as a wife, mother, neighbor, and church member.

But what if she’s not 60? The apostle’s answer is: don’t put her on the list. Even following the pattern of life described here, the Holy Spirit implies that a woman in her 50s will not yet have had enough maturing. But time by itself will not have the desired effect. 

1 Timothy 5:11-16 describe the sort of life that a lady should seek to live during that time, if she is to come into the season of life described in 1 Timothy 5:5. If she is not ready for it, then she should not attempt it, lest after making her commitment she come under condemnation (1 Timothy 5:12), because she discovers that despite her best intentions, Christ simply isn’t enough for her (1 Timothy 5:11). This may come as a desire to marry, as in verse 11, but there will be earlier warning signs: idleness (1 Timothy 5:13a) and the spending of life in socialization (verse 13b) that tends to degenerate into gossip and other sins of speech (verse 13c). 

The culture (and church culture—Lord, have mercy!) in which I write values little the Lord’s honorable calling for women or His design for sanctifying them through this calling. Fostering socialization is a top priority for many, and it would be shocking for them to hear that one of the benefits of being a wife and mother is that it severely curtails the ability to socialize. 

But this is exactly why the Spirit here praises a life of domestic service. The Spirit characterizes the life of idleness, the life that prioritizes socialization, as “turning aside after Satan” (1 Timothy 5:15). Young ladies who fall into this trap do not merely inhibit their spiritual progress toward 1 Timothy 5:5-style maturity, but they end up misusing their mouths and give the adversary opportunity to speak reproachfully (1 Timothy 5:14b). 

The remedy, then, in 1 Timothy 5:14 is not too surprising. Younger ladies should marry. The gift of singleness, fabricated within the past century via misreadings of 1 Corinthians 7, is not something that is recognizable to 1 Timothy 5:14. Chastity is a gift, but it is a gift that comes through the Lord’s training of our souls via the means of grace, and the knowledge of Christ through grace-dependent living in His wisely ordered providence. 

The widows over 60 who have been so trained are “as Paul is” (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:7–8). But the path to get there runs through the life described in 1 Timothy 5:14: marry, and so serve husband ahead of oneself; bear children, and so serve them ahead of oneself; manage the house (including lodging neighbors, washing saints’ feet, and relieving the afflicted, cf. 1 Timothy 5:10), serving neighbor and church-member and afflicted ahead of oneself. 

Such selflessness cannot come from a lady’s own mind. It can only come from having the mind of Christ in her (cf. Philippians 2:1–30). And it is this domestic life that the Lord has especially designed to bring her into constant lifting of her heart to Him, looking to Him for grace, finding His fellowship to be what sweetens her circumstances and strengthens her heart.

If she is a young woman, she needs either a husband and children (1 Timothy 5:14) or to be under the care of another household (1 Timothy 5:16). Not only does this free the church to support the 24/7 praying widows “who are really widows,” but it puts her under the care of one who will do so as keeping his own faith (cf. 1 Timothy 5:8). It must be assumed that in this household she will receive not only material support but family shepherding in the means of grace. Surely, this is an even more vital part of our duty to those who are of our own, and of our own household (verse 8, 1 Timothy 5:16).

There will be many women who read these verses and think “I’m just not wired that way.” And the paucity of spiritually viable men presents a problem. But this just further underlines the need for a faithful ministry in the discipling of the whole church, and especially of the sort of man who could become a chapter-3-qualified elder or deacon in the discipling of his house. The response of the church must be toward obedience, setting the proper goals and putting in diligent effort, rather than operating as if we are the first generation in which following the Spirit’s instruction here would have been challenging. 1Timothy on the whole is written to a man leading a church in desperate need of reformation and revival. And obedience to this section is, after all, a means by which we are to become accustomed to crying out to God night and day.

What is the training ground in which the Lord spiritually develops women who will be 24/7 prayer warriors (or men who may be qualified for the eldership)? Why shouldn’t we expect this to be easy? What is your own habit or season of life? How is it training you to a continual dependence upon grace through prayer?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for so highly valuing hanging out and socialization. So many of us are failing to mature in faith, because we do not value the domestic life that You have designed for growing us in faith. Grant unto us to love to serve you in the ordinary, daily life of the home. Grant that such service would cause us to lift our hearts continually to You for grace. Grow us by the grace of Christ and the knowing of Him, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

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

No comments:

Post a Comment