Saturday, November 04, 2023

2023.11.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 5:3–4

Read 1 Timothy 5:3–4

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom are they to honor (1 Timothy 5:3)? Making what distinction? What would make her not “really” a widow (1 Timothy 5:4)? What should these children and grandchildren show? Where? By doing what to whom? Why?

What are we to learn from the fact that there are some widows whom the church is not to honor by putting them on the roll of receiving diaconal funds? 1 Timothy 5:3–4 helps us think about the diaconate, as we prepare to certify, elect, ordain, and install deacons. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that a true widow is one who has no children or grandchildren to take care of her, because the home (not the church) is the first place for showing piety.

“Honor widows who are really widows.” The “honor” referred to here is material provision, as shown by the word “repay” in 1 Timothy 5:4. Material provision is a great concern for a woman who loses the husband who had provided for her. Material provision for widows was the concern upon which the Spirit instituted the diaconate in the church (cf. Acts 6:1–7). 

So, it may be jarring at first to read the second part of that, “who are really widows.” What makes one “truly” to be a widow? The answer appears in 1 Timothy 5:4. The widowhood of her who has children or grandchildren is a providential gift to them: an opportunity “to repay their parents.” The widowhood of her who has no other means of provision is an opportunity for the church to take care of her as if she were their mother and grandmother. It is an opportunity for congregational obedience to the 1 Timothy 5:2 principle in the context of money rather than the context of the mouth.

“let them first learn to show piety at home.” Just as the father/brother/mother/sister language of 1 Timothy 5:1-2 implies a certain manner of speech at home as a prerequisite to godly speech in the congregation, so a proper approach to diaconal aid in the church begins with a proper approach to diaconal aid in the home.

What is this proper approach? It is seeking to be a blessing, not only spiritually but materially, to every other person in the household. We have seen in our study of wealth how a righteous man desires to provide what he can not only for his current family but even for future generations. But now we see that the reverse is also true. It is “pleasing” (what NKJ translates “acceptable”) to God for children to be on the lookout for ways to repay their parents. 

Proverbs frequently urges us to consider what gladdens a father or gladdens a mother. The head of the second table of the law is to honor father and mother. It is plainly obvious that repaying them however we can is something that pleases God. But in God’s ordinary providence, they are ahead of us in life, and we are not able to do them much material good for most of our own life. So, if the Lord takes father ahead of mother, He often opens a door for us to de-widow her widowhood. We have an opportunity to repay the father that we have lost by providing for his treasured wife, and we have an opportunity to repay the mother whom God has spared to us by being the consolation of her widowhood.

The church is not to take away spiritual opportunities. Because this may be received as hard, it is important for deacons to commend to the surviving family members the Holy Spirit’s logic in 1 Timothy 5:4: you have an opportunity to please God by repaying your parents; there is a priority upon practicing your holy religion every day in your home before you make to practice it in the church.

Even before our parents die, let us seek to do them what good we can. Spiritual good. Material good. Every good. For, this pleases God. And with not just our parents, but with our entire household, let us take to heart this principle about our practice of godliness: let us first learn to show our godliness at home. Let us pursue that godliness that pleases God, rather than the desire to be seen by the church as godly.

Whom do you have in your home? How are you practicing your godliness in love and sacrificial service to them? Whom do you know in church who does not have anyone in her/his home? What opportunities are you taking, personally, to be part of God’s consolation to them in the place of family members? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving us homes in which to practice our godliness first. Forgive us for how sometimes we are slowest to repay those whom You have made to be greater gifts to us than others are. Forgive us for wanting to be seen as godly by the eyes of the church rather than keeping our eyes out for the godliness that You love. Wash away our guilt by the blood of Christ, and make us holy as He is holy, for we ask it in Christ’s Name, AMEN!

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

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