Daily Devotion in I Timothy 5
If you ever sat in the front office of a church for any amount of time, you may find many coming through the door expecting a handout. Perhaps because the government passes out so much of other people’s money to them, they expect the church to do the same thing. Although many churches do help others, there is not a lot of scriptural basis for doing so in the manner many ministries give today.
As Paul said earlier in II Thessalonians 3, it is right for all that can to work. In no way did he suggest giving charity to everyone, as is often done today.
To get a better idea of the early church’s view on giving, examine the restrictions given to one group of people they tried to help — widows. They did not just hand out their support to anyone that came through the door claiming to be a widow. To help them, the widow had to be:
- Unsupported because she had no family to help her (I Timothy 5:4, 8, 16).
- A saved and godly woman (I Timothy 5:5) known for a prayer life of praying night and day.
- At least 60 years old (I Timothy 5:9). Younger widows were not to be supported (I Timothy 5:11).
- Married only once (I Timothy 5:9).
- Known for her good works in helping others (I Timothy 5:10).
If they were qualified under those conditions, then the spiritual widows would be supported. I doubt if too many today wanting help from a church, even widows, would meet the early church's qualifications.
“Well, they were mean and cheap,” is what some say about the church that did not pay the way for those that did not have it. That is not the reason, as many in the early churches sold what they had to help each other and to help the ministry grow. Their generosity was never in question.
They did not meet the need of every “gimme” because their common sense and scriptural training taught them it would not really help those wanting support. Giving to those that asked for help in many cases could:
- Further encourage their not working.
- If the person’s need were because of a spiritual problem in their life, it would not encourage them to get right with God and help themselves.
- Rob a person of their pride in meeting their own and family’s needs and feeling good about themselves when being the provider they should be.
- Show others that begging was a solution rather than working and seeking God’s help.
- Keep families from their responsibilities to help their members.
- Channel the church's responsibility away from their real purpose — to win souls to the Lord.
Many mean well in helping those that appear needy. It is a noble cause, but it often does more damage to our society than helping. The proof is that now we have so many that expect others to help them. The early Christians had much discernment in their helping of others, and so should we today!
“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Psalms 37:25
Words to Understand:
Desolate: alone; laid waste
Infidel: a person that rejects scriptural practices and truths
Piety: pious; proper conduct
Threescore: A “score” is twenty, so “threescore” is three times 20 or “60.”
Wine: an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink. The non-alcoholic “wine” was often preserved grape juice with much water removed making it a syrup; it happens to be helpful to the stomach whereas alcoholic wines are not.
I Timothy 5
1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
3 ¶ Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.
16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
17 ¶ Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.
23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.
24 Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.
25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.