Thursday, September 27, 2012

1 Timothy 5:11-13

Summary retelling of 1 Timothy 5:11-13

Paul then says to refuse to enroll younger widows in the program because they have a tendency to want to marry again.  This tends to lead to them to focusing less on God.  Plus, without maturity of life people who are given free support tend to take advantage of it and spend their time doing idle things, going from house to house doing nothing productive, gossiping, and telling people things that they shouldn’t.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
 Paul isn’t trying to be discriminatory against young widows here.  There is a certain amount of maturity necessary to give up the agenda of this world and completely embrace God’s agenda.  Many people make promises that they simply just cannot keep.  It takes a certain amount of wisdom in life to know when to make promises that you can keep and when to not make promises to which you absolutely know you cannot live up.

Do you think it is good to ask people to genuinely consider how mature they are?  What happens when a person is genuinely in touch with their own level of maturity?  Is it better to say “no” to someone that asks you to do something that you probably won’t do or is it better to say “yes” in order to seem agreeable and likeable and then not follow through?

Second Thought:
One of the main reasons that Paul tells Timothy to not enroll young widows is because they may get remarried.  First of all, notice that this is not a slam against people getting remarried at all.  In fact, since Paul says that it is likely one can say that it is clearly an acceptable practice for a widow to get remarried.  Paul says that it is likely and never once says that it is a bad practice.  So don’t read this passage as anything against remarriage.  However, what Paul is saying is that when a person gets married, their devotion is inherently split.  A single person can devote themselves solely to God.  A married person is by definition devoted to God and their spouse.  (Hopefully those devotions run along the same path most of the time, though.)  Remember that in the prior sections Paul has talked about how a widow who has been “accepted in support” should be devoted to God and devoted to embracing the community.  Thus, an accepted widow who gets remarried is going to inherently have to step back somewhat from her devotion to supporting the community because she will have to spend some of her devotion to her new husband.  This is what Paul means when he says that they are “abandoning” an earlier faith.  It doesn’t mean they are giving up on God completely.  It means that they will have to step away from ministries that an unmarried widow would be able to fulfill.  Their spiritual closeness with God and their community may grow weaker through remarriage.

Does this passage trouble you at all?  How much time do you spend thinking about the things in your life – some of which may actually be good! – that inherently take your focus away from God?  Why is it important to consider how our commitments to one another might impact our ability to make commitments to God and His work?

Third Thought:
 Again we hear Paul talking about his fear for the Ephesian church.  He fears that widows – especially young widows – will take advantage of the hospitality of others. Instead of genuinely serving the church, Paul fears that the young widows will receive the care given to them and use their eased burden to become gossips, busybodies, and people who spend their time talking about worldly things rather than focusing on spiritual matters.

Do you think this is a fair comment?  Do you think younger people are more likely to be distracted by worldly passions that older people?  Why might this be true?  How can wrestling with this question help older people understand the troubles of being young?  How can wrestling with this question help younger people understand the value of the wisdom of older people?  What does Paul seem to be saying in this passage about the value of wisdom and life experience?

Passage for Tomorrow: 1 Timothy 5:14-16
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