Sunday, 21 January 2018
…well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work. 1 Timothy 5:10
These words continue on from verse 10 concerning eligibility for a widow to be “taken into the number,” meaning acceptable for assistance by the church for her livelihood. She is to be “well reported for good works.” It is an obvious statement. A widow who is truly a widow is to have been known as one who is of good repute concerning helping others. The Greek literally reads, “in good works.” She should be known for beneficence both by believers and unbelievers.
Paul then defines those good works beginning with, “if she has brought up her children.” The words here can indicate either her own children or others. In other words, she should be well known for having been as a proper light of instruction and education to the children who grew up around her. It is true that some of the finest lessons that a child can receive can come from the mother of a friend. Playing at the house of a god-fearing woman can be an inspiration to a child whose parents are non-believers.
Next Paul says, “if she has lodged strangers.” Abraham and Sarah accommodated those who came by their tent. Others in Scripture are noted for this as well. To open one’s doors to strangers can be a reflection of common hospitality which is an important part of human interaction. It shows a willingness to assist others, even at the expense of one’s own privacy.
The next qualification is, “if she has washed the saints’ feet.” Washing one’s feet is a Middle Eastern custom. The land is hot and dusty, and this clings heavily to the feet. Open sandals were often the customary footwear as well, and so when coming to a house, people’s feet would have lines of filth wherever they were not covered. In the world of pants and full-cover shoes, this is not something we worry about. But for those times when it is seen, the washing of the feet of guests was considered an act of humility, as well as a special honor upon the one whose feet were washed. When David proposed to Abigail, her response was reflective of what Paul speaks of here –
Then she arose, bowed her face to the earth, and said, “Here is your maidservant, a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” 1 Samuel 25:41
Paul next says, “if she has relieved the afflicted.” Such would be the soul who would take hot chicken soup to someone who was down with the flu. She would make meals for the mother who just gave birth. She would go sit with the mother of the child in bed with the fever. Such things wold reflect the caring quality of a woman willing to relieve the afflicted.
Finally in this verse, Paul says, “if she has diligently followed every good work.” The character of her life is to be defined as a tireless helper of those around her. Her husband, her children, her neighbors, and any of the local people who interacted with her often, would know that she was one who was willing to expend herself in doing right and acting properly. With such a record behind her, and in meeting the age requirements laid out by Paul, she would be a suitable candidate for having the church tend to her after her long life of tending to others.
Life application: A person reaps what they sow. In the case of a widow who was an attentive and helpful mother and friend, she should be reasonably rewarded with proper care by those she tended to. The Bible instructs that this is to be so. It would be inappropriate to not help someone who had given so much of her own life to others when she was able to do so.
Lord God, help us to be attentive to those around us who are kind and caring. May we see their actions, file them away in our minds, and remember to tend to them when they have their own times of need. Goodness should be a two way street, and so help us to not only accept the goodness of others, but to respond with goodness to others as well. In this, our lives will be reflective of selfless, happy people. Surely this is good in Your sight. Amen.