Wednesday, September 26, 2012

1 Timothy 5:9-10

Summary retelling of 1 Timothy 5:9-10

Paul then sets out some guidelines for being a genuine widow.  A widow deserving of help in the church is a woman who while in Christ was a “one-man-woman.”  She is a person who has a reputation for using her time for godly pursuits: raising children well (if applicable), showing hospitality, being of good service to the holy ones, and caring for the afflicted in the world among other things. 

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Again we hear Paul setting up more guidelines.  From what we’ve learned in the past few studies, we can tell that these guidelines are being set up because there is abuse in the church.  People are taking advantage of the hospitality of others.  People are not being genuinely grateful when help is given to them.  This is a sad truth in the world.  Laws are created as a response to abuse.  Laws are created because human beings like to find loop-holes so that they can focus on their own self-centered passions.  When people respond properly and according to God’s will, we don’t need to have structure and regulate the outpouring of God’s Spirit.  It is when people abandon God’s ways and focus on their own desires and their own needs that we have to have laws.

Do you see this dynamic in the society around you?  What traffic laws exist simply to keep people from solely thinking about themselves?  What rules in schools exist for no other purpose than to keep one person from taking advantage?  What laws from our government are created simply to try and limit the number of people who can take advantage of the programs that are there to help people in the first place?

Second Thought:
Before talking about the traits of a proper widow, I would like to illustrate again that by definition Paul speaks about “excluding.”  The point of this section of text is that Paul is telling Timothy that there are some in Ephesus who need to be told that they are being “cut off.”  {Not necessarily cut of from the faith, just cut off from being able to abuse other people’s hospitality.}  Paul is giving permission to Timothy to tell people when they’ve gone too far.  That takes courage, guts, and strength.  It also means being willing to have people get mad at you because nobody likes being told that they’ve done something wrong.

Why is it important to understand that we should have the authority to tell people when they have take advantage of us and are no longer acting in God’s ways?  In what way should we be humbled because we have that authority?  What role does community play in exercising such authority?

Third Thought:
Now we get to the guidelines.  Paul says that a widow deserving of receiving help is a woman who sexually lived life according to God’s desires.  This is a woman who has only ever had one man.  Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean “not married more than once.”  It means “not partnered with more than one man at the same time.”  In ancient cultures having multiple partners was fairly common, and it is a practice frowned upon by God because of its inherent damage to the nuclear family support network and the relationships contained within.  A widow is also someone who is using her time for godly things.  This doesn’t mean that she is perfect – after all, who is?  But what it does mean is that it is a woman who is engaged in the life of the congregation.  This is a woman who is concerned for her fellow Christians.  She might be upholding them in prayer.  She might be visiting with them and spending time demonstrating concern for them.  Essentially, Paul is telling us that a proper widow who receives help from the church is a woman who responds to that generosity with sincere appreciation.  In many respects, Paul is indicating that a person receiving help from the church should respond in good faith in the same way that we allow should respond to God as He gives us salvation.

Why is the response important?  Is it the response that saves us?  If not, then why is our response to God, love, compassion, or mercy so important? 

Passage for Tomorrow: 1 Timothy 5:11-13
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