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14. Caring for Widows and Those in Need (1 Timothy 5:3-16)

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Honor widows who are truly in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn to fulfill their duty toward their own household and so repay their parents what is owed them. For this is what pleases God. But the widow who is truly in need, and completely on her own, has set her hope on God and continues in her pleas and prayers night and day. But the one who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Reinforce these commands, so that they will be beyond reproach. But if someone does not provide for his own, especially his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. No widow should be put on the list unless she is at least sixty years old, was the wife of one husband, and has a reputation for good works: as one who has raised children, practiced hospitality, washed the feet of the saints, helped those in distress—as one who has exhibited all kinds of good works. But do not accept younger widows on the list, because their passions may lead them away from Christ and they will desire to marry, and so incur judgment for breaking their former pledge. And besides that, going around from house to house they learn to be lazy, and they are not only lazy, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things they should not. So I want younger women to marry, raise children, and manage a household, in order to give the adversary no opportunity to vilify us. For some have already wandered away to follow Satan. If a believing woman has widows in her family, let her help them. The church should not be burdened, so that it may help the widows who are truly in need.

1 Timothy 5:3-16 (NET)

How should the church care for widows or those in need? Scripture clearly teaches God’s special care for widows and the poor and needy. Consider the following Old Testament verses:

He is a father to the fatherless and an advocate for widows. God rules from his holy palace.

Psalm 68:5

Learn to do what is right! Promote justice! Give the oppressed reason to celebrate! Take up the cause of the orphan! Defend the rights of the widow!

Isaiah 1:17

“You must not afflict any widow or orphan. If you afflict them in any way and they cry to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my anger will burn and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children will be fatherless.

Exodus 22:22-24

The Jews were to give special care to widows, orphans, and the poor. In fact, part of their tithe provided for those in need (Deut 14:28-29). This special care for the poor was passed from the Jews to the church. In Acts 6, the early church selected seven men to care for a large population of widows—providing food for them. In Galatians 2:9-10, when the apostles gave Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, they urged them to go to the Gentiles with the gospel but also for them to remember the poor. James, Christ’s brother, also taught the need for caring for widows in James 1:27. He said, “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” True saving faith provides for those in distress (cf. Matt 25:32-46).

Women lost their husbands for a variety of reasons such as the dangers of travel, disease, war, and a host of other things.1 In those days, there was no government assistance and widows were an especially vulnerable class. Without their husbands, they often had to turn to begging or prostitution. Therefore, the church gave great attention to this neglected class, and in 1 Timothy 5, Paul instructs the church on how to care for them. Many of these principles do not just apply to widows, but single moms, divorcees, trafficking victims, and anybody else in desperate need.

As we consider this mercy ministry, it is important to consider that God promises tremendous blessings to those who care for the needy. Proverbs 19:17 says, “The one who is gracious to the poor lends to the Lord, and the Lord will repay him for his good deed.” In addition, in Deuteronomy 14:29, God promised to bless the work of Israel’s hands as they provided for the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow.

How should the church provide for widows and those in need?

As we consider this passage, it is important to note the two separate sections within it. In verses 3-8, Paul teaches about supporting widows in need. However, in verses 9-16, he focuses on widows who will be put on the list to devote themselves to serving the church. Some believe that all of these verses apply to widows in need; however, it’s pretty clear that it does not. John Stott comments on what distinguishes these two sections. He says,

The widows in mind in verses 3–8 Timothy is to give proper recognition to, literally ‘to honour, or rather support’, whereas those in mind in verses 9–16 he is to put on the list of widows, that is, ‘register’ or ‘enrol’ them. Commentators differ as to whether Paul is referring to the same group of widows in both paragraphs, or to two distinct groups. That different categories are in view is suggested not only by the different introductory verbs (‘honour’ and ‘register’), but also by the different conditions for admission into the two groups. In the first case it is destitution and godliness, while in the second it is a combination of seniority, married faithfulness and a reputation for good works.2

In 1 Timothy 5:3-16, we will draw out principles that both individuals and the church can apply, as they care for widows and the needy.

Big Question: How should the church care for widows or those in desperate need?

The Church Must Honor Widows and Women in Need

Honor widows who are truly in need.

1 Timothy 5:3

John MacArthur said this about the Greek word for widow which may help us better apply this text:

The English word widow describes a woman whose husband is dead. The Greek word chēra (“widow”) includes that meaning, but is not limited to it. It is an adjective used as a noun, and means “bereft,” “robbed,” “having suffered loss,” or “left alone.” The word does not speak of how a woman was left alone, it merely describes the situation. It is broad enough to encompass those who lost their husbands through death, desertion, divorce, or imprisonment. It could even encompass those cases where a polygamist came to Christ and sent away his extra wives (William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975], 105).3

Therefore, though Paul’s command certainly applies to widows, it’s applications are broader. It applies to any women left alone without help. Today, this especially applies to single mothers who are often left all alone whether because of divorce, abandonment from the father, and/or family members. It also has implications for women who have been trafficked, which is a growing population in certain societies. These women are often in very difficult straits. Along with women who have lost their husbands, these are probably today’s widows—women who are left all alone.

When Paul says, “Honor,” it can also be translated “to show respect,” “to support,” or “to treat graciously.” It carries the idea of both respect and financial support (cf. Matt. 27:9, where it is used of pricing something; 1 Cor 6:20, 1 Tim. 5:17).4

Where these women are often neglected or even shamed in society, the church should honor them by showing God’s love and care for them. This doesn’t mean that we don’t point out sin where it has happened, but that we walk beside them to help spiritually and practically.

Application Question: How should the church honor women in need?

  1. The church can honor them by meeting their spiritual needs. This includes praying for them, encouraging their faith, and sharing the gospel with them if they don’t know Christ. These women are often good ground for the gospel and spiritual encouragement.
  2. The church can honor them by meeting their practical needs. This includes but is not limited to providing shelter, food, clothing, and emotional support.

Application Question: How have you experienced or encountered women left all alone whether that be widows, divorcees, single mothers, or trafficked victims?

The Church Must Encourage Members to Care for Their Widows and Aging Family Members

But if a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn to fulfill their duty toward their own household and so repay their parents what is owed them. For this is what pleases God… But if someone does not provide for his own, especially his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever… If a believing woman has widows in her family, let her help them. The church should not be burdened, so that it may help the widows who are truly in need.

1 Timothy 5:4, 8, 16

One of the ways the church is called to help widows is by encouraging Christian family members to care for them. Paul said this, “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn to fulfill their duty toward their own household and so repay their parents what is owed them. For this is what pleases God” (v. 4). It is a basic Christian principle that we should care for parents (and grandparents). In the Ten Commandments, God commands us to honor our father and mother. This honor includes providing for them financially when they are old. Jesus corrected the Pharisees’ understanding of the fifth commandment, when they tried to undermine the financial support it demanded. Christ said this in Matthew 15:3-6:

He answered them, “And why do you disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Whoever insults his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If someone tells his father or mother, “Whatever help you would have received from me is given to God,” he does not need to honor his father.’ You have nullified the word of God on account of your tradition.

Therefore, it is the Christian’s duty to care for one’s aging relatives, which includes any widows. Paul said that anyone who does not care for their relatives has denied the faith (v. 8). This means at best they are disobeying God’s command, but at worst, they are not even true believers—their profession of faith means nothing and therefore is not real (cf. James 1:22, 2:17, 19).

Kent Hughes said this about our need to provide for our parents and grandparents:

The inevitable fact is, with the rhythm of generations a dramatic reversal comes to us all. We who once held our helpless children in our arms and nursed them and provided for their every need will one day be held in their arms as they nurse us at the end of our lives. This responsibility will come to us all. And when we sons and daughters do this, we are only “repaying [our] parents and grandparents.” We will be living out the fifth commandment. We will be putting our “religion [literally, “godliness”] into practice.” We will not have God’s approval without such loving family care—”for this is pleasing to God.”5

Obviously, the greatest example of one who cared for his widow is Christ. While Jesus was on the cross, he not only thought about the sins of the world, as he bore the penalty we deserved; he also thought about his mother as well. John 19:26-27 describes Jesus’ interactions with the apostle John and Mary, and how he provided for his widowed mother. It says,

So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, look, here is your son!” He then said to his disciple, “Look, here is your mother!” From that very time the disciple took her into his own home.

John 19:26-27

Application Question: How can believers care for aging parents?

As we consider Christ’s example and Paul’s exhortations to care for our aging family members, we must ask, “How? How can we provide for aging family members?” Paul says in verse 8 that if anyone does not “provide” for his family members, he is worse than an unbeliever. The word “provide” means “‘to plan before.’ It describes the forethought necessary to provide care for the widows in one’s family.”6 Like Christ on the cross, making provision for his mother, families must consider this as well. They should consider their aging family members when purchasing a home, budgeting (savings), securing life insurance, etc. God is pleased when we plan to provide for our aging parents (1 Tim 5:4).

To care for widows, the church must urge its members to practice their faith by honoring their fathers and mothers and, in general, caring for needy family members.

Application Question: How have you seen or experienced children providing for aging parents? How do you plan to provide for yours, if they are still alive?

The Church Must Evaluate the Needs of Widows

But if a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn to fulfill their duty toward their own household and so repay their parents what is owed them. For this is what pleases God. But the widow who is truly in need, and completely on her own, has set her hope on God and continues in her pleas and prayers night and day. But the one who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Reinforce these commands, so that they will be beyond reproach. But if someone does not provide for his own, especially his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:4-8

Now, it must be noticed that benevolence must not be given indiscriminately. The resources of the church are the Lord’s, and therefore, great wisdom and discernment must be used in distributing them. This is also true for Christians in general. Therefore, Paul gives requirements for the support of widows. They must be widows who are “truly in need” (v. 5).

Observation Question: What requirements did Paul give for supporting widows? Who are the widows who are “truly in need”?

Paul then describes the widows who are “truly in need” and eligible to receive support from the church. These principles apply not just to widows but to other situations where people are in need.

1. In order to receive support, the widows must be completely on their own (v. 5).

John MacArthur’s comments are helpful: “The perfect tense of the participle indicates a permanent state or condition of being forsaken and without resources. Obviously she is one who has no supporting family and the church has an obligation to such.”7

2. In order to receive support, the widows must be believers.

Paul said she “has set her hope in God” (v. 5). “The perfect tense of the verb elpizō (hope) again indicates a continual state or condition. Her settled attitude is one of hope in God.”8

Now, the church can and should help nonbelievers, but it is their first responsibility to help believers. Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith.”

3. In order to receive support, the widows must be godly.

Paul says she “has set her hope on God and continues in her pleas and prayers night and day” (v. 5). This woman is living in prayer—communion with God—and she continually petitions him for help. Luke 2:37 describes a godly widow named Anna who never left the temple but prayed day and night to the Lord. When Jesus was brought to the temple as a baby, she prophesied over him.

To further support the need for godliness, Paul says, “But the one who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives” (v. 6). Often the church is bombarded by requests for help. Sadly, these requests commonly come from those living in drunkenness, sexual immorality, financial irresponsibility, and sometimes even drug use. To support these people financially may actually harm and further handicap them. Sometimes with Christians living in rebellion, their dire situation is a natural consequence of their sin and a form of the Lord’s discipline (cf. Heb 12:6, Jonah 1). To help someone who is unrepentant might hinder them from truly repenting and turning to God.

Paul commands Timothy to use discrimination in who they support. In Thessalonica, some people were refusing to work but living off the church’s generosity. Paul says if a person doesn’t work, they shouldn’t eat (2 Thess 3:10). There is a place for saying, “No,” when individuals are not walking with God.

Corporately and individually, believers must use wisdom in supporting those in need. This includes seeking the Lord’s wisdom through prayer, as the Lord ultimately knows these people and what’s best. It includes asking questions and doing research when possible to see if a person has exhausted all their resources (work, family, etc.). It includes inquiring about one’s spiritual life and faithfulness to God.

Paul says, “Reinforce these commands, so that they will be beyond reproach” (v. 7). These instructions are to be followed so that the church and individual Christians may be “beyond reproach” or not “open to blame” (NIV). If they support those who are not really in need or are in rebellion to God, it opens the door for public criticism. No doubt, being “beyond reproach” also refers to God’s displeasure over how we use his finances. Therefore, we must use wise discrimination. Are they really in need? Are they believers? Are they walking faithfully with the Lord?

Application Question: Why is it important to discriminate in the church’s mercy ministries? Are there times the church (or us individually) should support non-believers or believers who are in rebellion towards God? If so, when?

The Church Should Utilize the Ministry of Godly Widows

No widow should be put on the list unless she is at least sixty years old, was the wife of one husband, and has a reputation for good works: as one who has raised children, practiced hospitality, washed the feet of the saints, helped those in distress—as one who has exhibited all kinds of good works.

1 Timothy 5:9-10

Interpretation Question: Why were the widows in verses 9-10 put on the list? What was their function?

Next, Paul talks about widows who could be registered or put on the list (v. 9). Who were these women? Some people believe that Paul is still talking about women who received financial support. However, if this were true, very few widows would be supported, as the requirements are very strict (at least sixty, well-known for good deeds, etc.). Some of these widows may have received financial support, but the primary focus seems to be their serving in some official capacity. This is clear by how the qualifications mirror the ones given for the elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3 (cf. faithfulness to one’s husband, hospitality, etc.).

In addition, there is extra-biblical support for an official order of widows serving in churches. John MacArthur adds,

In the late first and early second centuries, Ignatius and Polycarp wrote of such an order. Tertullian, who lived in the latter part of the second and early part of the third centuries, also mentioned it. The third-century document known as the Didascalia, and the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions also refer to an order of widows.9

Interpretation Question: What types of ministry did these widows focus on?

With their husbands gone and their children grown, these widows focused on serving women and children in the church and caring for those in needs. No doubt, they fulfilled Paul’s instructions to older women in Titus 2:3-5. He said,

Older women likewise are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy, not slandering, not slaves to excessive drinking, but teaching what is good. In this way they will train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited.

Observation Question: What were the requirements for being on the official list of widows?

  1. The widows needed to be at least sixty. Any widow could be supported financially who was really in need, a believer, and walking with the Lord, but only older widows could be put on the list. Sixty was the typical retirement age in the ancient world; at that point they retired from their activities to a life of contemplation.10
  2. The widows had to be “the wife of one husband.” It can also be translated “a one-man woman.” It has a similar construction to the requirement for elders and deacons (cf. 3:2, 12) who needed to be a “one-woman man.” A “one-man woman” is somebody totally devoted to her husband. It speaks of purity in relationships with the opposite sex. Only a woman like this could be a good model to the younger women in the church.
  3. The widows had to have a reputation of good works. He names five qualities of these good works.

Observation Question: What good works characterized the widows on the official list?

  • They “raised children.” This referred to their raising godly children who followed the Lord. It also may have referred to caring for orphans—the ancient world was full of neglected children.
  • They “practiced hospitality,” which means being “a lover of strangers.” These women opened their homes and cared for others.
  • They “washed the feet of saints” which refers to humbly serving the needs of others. It also may refer to spiritually encouraging people, as Christ’s act of washing feet symbolized (John 13).
  • They “helped those in distress.” If there was a need, they went out of the way to meet it.
  • They devoted themselves to “all kinds of good works.” This could include prayer, teaching the Word, making clothes and cooking food for those in need, among other things.

This list is challenging. It should provoke both men and women to desire to have such qualities.

Biblical Retirement

This list speaks to us about retirement. Scripture doesn’t teach the type of retirement that the world aspires to. People work hard so they can travel the world and go fishing and hunting whenever they want. However, these instructions about the official list of serving widows teach us something radically different about retirement. Retirement doesn’t necessarily mean more leisure and entertainment. It should mean time to focus on serving God, the church, and the needy. God allows us to store up wisdom and experiences so that we can pass them down to future generations. If he allows us to rest from work in retirement, he allows it so we can focus on praying, sharing God’s Word, discipling, and helping others in need. Moses was eighty years old when he got on fire for God and started serving (Ex 7:7). It is never too late to get on fire for God and to faithfully use our gifts.

However, if we don’t prepare for retirement spiritually by growing in godliness, we won’t be as useful to God in old age (cf. 2 Tim 2:20-21, 3:16-17). Are you preparing for a biblical retirement—a focus on serving God and others?

Application Question: What are the common goals of most, including Christians, for retirement? How does the example of this order of widows challenge or inspire your thoughts of retirement?

The Church Should Instruct Younger Widows to Remarry

But do not accept younger widows on the list, because their passions may lead them away from Christ and they will desire to marry, and so incur judgment for breaking their former pledge. And besides that, going around from house to house they learn to be lazy, and they are not only lazy, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things they should not. So I want younger women to marry, raise children, and manage a household, in order to give the adversary no opportunity to vilify us. For some have already wandered away to follow Satan.

1 Timothy 5:11-15

Observation Question: Why should younger widows not be put on the list?

Finally, Paul says that younger widows should not be put on the list, but instead, they should be encouraged to marry, have children, manage their homes, and to give the enemy no door to slander (v. 14). They should still be supported financially, but they should not be put on the official list of serving widows.

Why should younger widows not be put on the list?

1. Younger widows will most likely desire to remarry.

Though some might want to be devoted to serving, most likely loneliness and other sensual desires will cause them to want to remarry. Paul said, “But do not accept younger widows on the list, because their passions may lead them away from Christ and they will desire to marry, and so incur judgment for breaking their former pledge” (v. 11-12).

Interpretation Question: What does Paul mean by the widows bringing judgment on themselves by breaking their former pledge?

  • Breaking their former pledge could mean that the widows on the list made a vow to remain single to focus on serving the Lord and that young widows would be tempted to break their vow to God.
  • Breaking their former pledge could mean that these young widows would desire to marry so badly that they would compromise their faith by marrying an unbeliever. “Breaking their former pledge” can be translated to “cast off their first faith” (KJV). To marry someone outside of the faith is to cast off our first faith—our decision to follow and obey Christ. First Corinthians 7:39 says, “A wife is bound as long as her husband is living. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes (only someone in the Lord).” The consistent testimony of Scripture is that believers must marry believers.

What other reasons does Paul give for excluding younger widows from the list?

2. Younger widows often lack spiritual maturity.

In 1 Timothy 5:13, Paul says, “And besides that, going around from house to house they learn to be lazy, and they are not only lazy, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things they should not.” When the spiritually immature are idle, instead of doing ministry, they often abuse that time and fall into various sins. When they do this, they give Satan an “opportunity” (v. 14). This is a military term meaning “a base of operations.”11 It’s a strategic door for the enemy to cause havoc in the church and bring contempt from the world. It seems that some young widows were doing this, as Paul says that some were already following Satan (v. 15).

One of the ministries of the church to younger widows is to encourage them to remarry and protect them from the attacks of evil one.

A Message to Singles

Paul’s counsel to young widows also provides a message for singles in general. Just as young widows would be vulnerable to temptation in the single state, especially lustful temptation (i.e. “passions” in verse 11), so are most singles. It is God’s will for most to marry, and marriage provides some amount of protection from the evil one. Consider what Paul said to singles in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5:

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (NIV 1984)

Marriage helps guard Christians from temptation towards sexual sin. In marriage, couples must faithfully practice the sexual union in order to protect themselves. Again, Paul said that singles, because of the pervasive sexual immorality, should pursue marriage (1 Cor 7:2).

Getting married implies the need to prepare for it. These preparations include growing in spiritual maturity. Ephesians 5 says that husbands should wash their wives with the Word as Christ does (v. 25-27), and women should submit to their husbands as unto the Lord (v. 22). Preparations also include becoming financially independent, among other things. Genesis 2:24 says that a man is to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife (KJV). Because of temptations towards sexual immorality, Christian singles should prepare for marriage and consider getting married early.

This is important to hear in an age where marriage keeps getting pushed further and further out for educational, vocational, and financial concerns. Sadly, what’s happening is that more single Christians are just living in sexual immorality and following Satan like some of the young widows were (1 Tim 5:15).

In many cultures, Christians getting married at a younger age than the wider population is normative, and one of the primary motivations is purity. Purity needs to be considered by singles and their parents. Many, if not most, will struggle with purity (and the resulting consequences of failing to keep it) and therefore preparing for an early marriage is wise.

One of the roles of the church is to encourage young widows to get married, as it will protect them from evil. As a general principle, it is wise for the church to encourage singles to do the same.

Application Question: What is your opinion on the comment that Christians, in general, should consider getting married early, as a protection from the evil one?

The Church Must Honor the Role of Housewife and Homemaker

One question that must be asked as we consider this text is, “Why are we only talking about widows and not widowers? What about the men?” No doubt, the reason is because Paul expects the men to work and be financial providers. Most likely these widows were housewives, so they had no other means of support when their husbands died. Throughout Scripture it is at least implied if not directly taught that men will financially provide for the families and that wives will take care of the home and raise children. Titus 2:5 commands for the older women to teach the younger women how to be homemakers (or to fulfill “their duties at home”). Paul even calls for young widows in this passage to get married, raise children, and to manage their households (5:14). To further support the view of men as providers, we have the example of Christ and the church which symbolizes marriage. In Ephesians 5, Christ washes, feeds, and cares for his bride—the church. He is the provider, just as Paul calls husbands to be (v. 25-30).

In our culture, being a house-wife/home-maker is often looked down upon. Wives are called to focus on their career at all cost, and often children are shipped off to day-care right after birth. Our children are essentially raised from infancy by people who may or may not even know Christ. Being a home-maker and raising children is exalted in the Old Testament, as seen with the Proverbs 31 wife. It is taught by Paul to Titus and here to Timothy. This doesn’t mean that women can’t have jobs. The Proverbs 31 wife was industrious. But, it does mean that women shouldn’t neglect the best thing—raising godly children—for a lesser thing like career. In some homes, husbands may take that role if that is best for a couple, but the model seen throughout Scripture is wives excelling in that area and older women teaching younger women how to do it (cf. Titus 2:5).

Where the world dishonors house-wives and home-makers, the church exalts them. This is part of the reason the church cares for these widows who were probably housewives and therefore lacked financial support after their husbands died. This is an exalted role in the church because Scripture exalts it and because it is important for raising godly children (cf. Mal 2:15). As this role is de-emphasized in society, our children often suffer the consequences. No doubt, this is part of the reason we are raising a rebellious and immoral generation. No one is home to raise the kids; both mothers and fathers are absent—and it is often expected that day-care workers and school teachers raise them.

Here is a story about Scottish preacher Ian MacClaren and a conversation with a mother in his church. This story demonstrates both how home-makers often feel insecure about their ministry and yet how important it is.

As they were talking, she began to wipe her eyes with the corner of her apron, so Dr. MacClaren said, “What’s disturbing you?”

“Oh,” she said, “Sometimes I feel I have done so little and when I think about it, it makes my heart heavy, because really I’ve done so little for Jesus.”

“When I was a wee girl the Lord spoke to my heart and I surrendered to Him. And I wanted to live for Him, oh so much. But I feel I haven’t done anything.”

“What have you done with your life?” he asked.

“Oh nothing,” she said, “just nothing. I’ve washed dishes, cooked three meals a day, taken care of my children, mopped the floor, mended the clothes, you know, everything a mother does, that’s all I’ve done.”

MacClaren sat back in his chair and asked, “Where are your boys?”

“Oh, she spoke, “You know I named them all for the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You know them all and you know where Mark is. You ordained him. He went to China. He’s learned the language and now he is able to minister to the people in the name of the Lord.”

“Where’s Luke?” MacClaren said.

“You know well enough where he is because you sent him out and I had a letter from him the other day. He is in Africa and says a revival has broken out at his mission station.”

“And Matthew?” he queried.

“He’s with his brother in China and they are working together. And John, who’s nineteen, came to me last night to say God has laid Africa on his heart. He said, ‘I’m going to Africa, but don’t worry about it, Mother, because the Lord has shown me that I am to stay with you until you go home to glory, and then I’ll go. Until then I have to take care of you.”

MacClaren looked at that elderly saint and said, “Your life has been wasted, you say?”

“Yes, it has been wasted.”

“You have been cooking and mopping and washing—but I would like to see the reward when you are called home!”12

Though the world defames this ministry; the church must exalt it, as Scripture does.

Application Question: How is the role of the housewife/homemaker often degraded in our society? Why does Scripture emphasize this role for women? Does this mean that women should not work? How can husbands encourage this ministry?

Conclusion

How should the church care for widows or those in need?

  1. The Church Must Honor Widows and Women in Need
  2. The Church Must Encourage Members to Care for Their Widows and Aging Family Members
  3. The Church Must Evaluate the Needs of Widows
  4. The Church Should Instruct Younger Widows to Remarry
  5. The Church Must Honor the Role of Housewife and Homemaker

1 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 230). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

2 Stott, J. R. W. (1996). Guard the truth: the message of 1 Timothy & Titus (p. 129). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

3 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (p. 195). Chicago: Moody Press.

4 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (p. 196). Chicago: Moody Press.

5 Hughes, R. K., & Chapell, B. (2000). 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: to guard the deposit (p. 125). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

6 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (p. 201). Chicago: Moody Press.

7 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (p. 199). Chicago: Moody Press.

8 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (p. 199). Chicago: Moody Press.

9 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (pp. 205–206). Chicago: Moody Press.

10 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (p. 206). Chicago: Moody Press.

11 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 230–231). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

12 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (pp. 208–209). Chicago: Moody Press.

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