Sunday Morning Soundbytes – 6/24/2007

Doing Church Together | Lou Kochanek

Yesterday’s message was the tenth in the Doing Church Together series from the book of 1 Timothy. The message was called, Caring for Each Other in the Body of Christ, taken from 1 Timothy 5:1-16.

1 Timothy 5:1-16 – 1 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.
11 As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. 12 Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. 13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. 14 So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. 15 Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.
16 If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need. (NIV)

The main idea of the message was that we should care for each other in the body of Christ. Here is a brief recap of the message:

The church is the body of Christ, and the members of the body must care for each other. If the church does not take care of its own, it has ceased to function as the church. Paul was especially concerned with the widows at Timothy’s church. But there are some general principles we can draw from Paul’s instructions that will help us learn how we may better care for each other in the body of Christ, too.

1) Treat each other in the church as family (verses 1-2)

We should treat older men in the church as fathers, and older women as mothers. In other words, we should respect those who are older in the church, just as we respect those who are older in the home.

We should treat younger men as brothers and younger women as sisters. Early documents outside of the Bible said that younger men should be treated as sons. But the Bible says you should treat younger men as brothers. In the church, no matter what your age, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, because we all share one heavenly Father.

Paul makes one additional application concerning the younger women in the church. He says, “Treat … younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” The church is a family of brothers and sisters, and therefore in the church body there should not be even a hint of sexual impurity or inappropriate relationships. Men and young men in the church, you should treat every woman in this church in your actions and in your thoughts as if they were your mother or your sister. Women and young women in the church, you should treat every man in this church in your actions and in your thoughts as if they were your father or your brother.

2) Take care of those who are older and in need (verses 3-16)

The phrase “give proper recognition to” is a single word in the Greek meaning first of all “to honor” and secondly “to provide support.” Paul speaks specifically about caring for widows in this passage. Although any woman who lost her husband was obviously a widow, Paul defined “a widow who was really in need” as meeting the following criteria.

A widow who was really in need:

1) had no relatives to care for her (4)
2) was prayerfully dependent on God (5)
3) lived for God rather than for pleasure (6)
4) was over sixty (9a)
5) had been faithful in marriage (9b)
6) was well known for her good deeds (10)

Once again, the principle we can draw from this is that we should take care of those in the church who are older and in need. Paul then breaks this one main principle down into three smaller principles that we should observe in the church.

    a) Children should provide for their elderly parents (4-8)

Children have a responsibility to look after their parents and grandparents in their old age. In fact, the Bible views this as a debt that should be repaid. It is also an act of worship to God. The phrase “put their religion into practice” is a word meaning to act reverently or to worship. Caring for your parents out of reverence for God is an act of worship that is pleasing to God.

The widow who is really in need is one who does not have children to take care of her. Therefore she is prayerfully dependent on God and puts all her hope in him. There were other widows who might claim that they were in need, but their lives showed different. The widow who lives for pleasure or luxury is not really in need.

The Christian faith includes honoring your parents and taking care of your family. If you don’t do this, you are denying the faith you claim to hold. Paul also says that you are worse than an unbeliever, because even unbelievers take care of their families. Plus the believer has God’s word to guide him and therefore has no excuse.

One of the most difficult decisions for adult children nowadays often has to do with caring for their elderly parents. When they can no longer live independently, we need to make decisions concerning long-term care. Sometimes the right decision is to care for our parents within our own homes. Sometimes supervised care within a nursing home may be required.

Whatever the decision, we should pray about it and seek God’s will and make sure that we are seeking what is best for our parents rather than just what is most convenient for us. Our parents gave us life and raised us. We have a debt to repay them. That is the biblical principle God gives us here. Children should provide for their elderly parents.

    b) Those that are able should provide for themselves (9-15)

The church always has limited resources and can never help every person in need. So where do you start? So how do you decide who you are going to help? You start by helping godly believers in the church body who have genuine needs that neither they nor their family can meet. Those that are able should provide for themselves.

That’s why Paul goes on in verses 11-15 to tell Timothy not to put younger widows on the list. Younger widows had greater resources to take care of themselves than the older widows. They had better health and strength, plus they had a better chance of remarrying and having children.

    c) The church can then help those who are really in need (3,16)

When people provide for their families, and those that are able provide for themselves, then the church can help those who are really in need. Once again, the church has limited resources and must choose wisely how to meet various needs within the church body.

Note: To read the complete message, go to the Sermons tab at the top of the blog.

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