Monday, 15 January 2018
But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. 1 Timothy 5:4
Paul had just instructed Timothy to “honor widows who are really widows.” Those who are really widows would be left destitute and in need of the care of the church. However, he shows how the church can be less burdened, and how the family should truly operate, by stating, “But if any widow has children or grandchildren.” Such a person may truly be a widow, but she is not without a source of help. Unlike a widow who is left alone to fend for herself, there are those to whom a moral responsibility is due. Upon them, he says, “let them first learn to show piety at home.”
It is one thing to come to church and act in a pious and giving manner, and it is another to act that way when only the family sees. People find satisfaction when others can see the great things they do, but the real heart of charity comes when we burden ourselves and get no credit for it from those around us. And so Paul says that such charity at home is “to repay their parents.” It is the parents through whom they came. It was the parents who spent their efforts and their earnings to raise them, etc. They may not have done the best job of it. Surely all parents learn as they go, but they were given the joys and trials in the birth of the child, and they followed through to the point where an adult was finally realized. This means many years of care and support. Now, the tables have turned, and the widow is in need of that same care and support. Such repayment is now expected because “this is good and acceptable before God.”
Honor of the parents leads to caring for the parents. It is a precept found in both testaments, and even one Jesus speaks of directly in Matthew 15. It is something God expects, and with such an attitude, God is pleased. Despite the normal times of difficulty which arise between families, there is to be a bond which is not set aside when the child reaches an age where those bonds can be cut. They remain, but the one responsible for guarding the bond changes. To break, or to neglect, this responsibility is to cast off that which God has ordained. To keep it intact is to do that which pleases God.
Life application: It is hard to find a family where the unit is so strong that what Paul mandates here would come naturally. It is much easier to pass off one’s responsibility in order to ensure that the next generation is properly cared for, instead of the previous one. But caring for the previous one is a duty which is not to be ignored. Let us take the words here to heart, and do our best to be pleasing in the sight of God in this way.
Lord God, thank You for our parents. They tended to us with each day as a new duty, and without an instruction manual. As the days unfolded, and as we tested and tried them, they did what they could with the resources they had. And today, we are the product of their efforts. They may not have been perfect, but here we are, bearing the decisions which they made, and which formed us in this way. Thank You Lord, for placing us into their care in order to form us as we are. Amen.