1 Timothy 5:8

Friday, 19 January 2018

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

Paul’s attention has been on the widow, showing what is proper concerning the care of a widow, what is the possible plight of a widow, etc. Now in this verse, he explains why the care expected of a widow (and others within the family) is a necessary part of the Christian faith. “But if anyone does not provide for his own,” is speaking specifically about a widow, but he is doing it in a general sense. There are those who need help, and there are those who are morally obligated to provide that help. The word he chooses for “provide” is one that signifies careful consideration of the matter involved. It is the Greek word pronoéō, coming from two words, pró, meaning “before,” and noiéō, “think.” Thus it signifies “to think before,” and it shows necessary forethought to act properly, meaning in God’s will.

A person should have attentive care for those who are dependent on him. Paul then explains further with, “and especially for those of his own household.” A person may have people dependent upon him for a variety of reasons. He may be an employer, he may have slaves or servants in his house, etc. Whoever his responsibilities extend to, he is to provide for them, but this is especially so with immediate family. This is an almost universally understood precept. It is something that would have to be taught out of a person, rather than taught into him. Throughout the world, the care of family is taken as an obvious responsibility. And so for a Christian to not follow through with such a basic moral tenet, “he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Paul was writing his words to Christians who lived in the Greek frame of mind. The writings of many of the Greek philosophers and elite showed that this was something they clearly understood as a right moral precept. As Charles Ellicott notes, “The rules even of the nobler Pagan moralists forbid such heartless selfishness.” If this is so, then how could a person be considered a properly acting moral Christian and not follow through with something so universally understood? He has “denied the faith.” In other words, the moral precepts which define the right conduct of being a Christian are not being applied as they should be. To refuse the duties of the faith is a denial of the faith itself.

His intent is for all Christians, at all times, to be aware of the need to care for their family, be ready and willing to meet their needs, and to not allow the church to be burdened with needs that should be taken care of at home.

As a final note, Paul does not say that such people have proven themselves to be unbelievers. A person is not saved by taking care of family members. They are saved by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. However, once someone is saved through that belief, they are expected to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, not ignore it as something which is unimportant to the Lord who saved them in the first place.

Life application: How often do finger-pointy people say, “That person can’t be a Christian because of XXX! Sometimes it is because of a pet peeve that they just can’t let go of. Sometimes it is because they know what is required of Christians, and they don’t see that requirement being worked out in the person’s life. They forget that salvation is a gift based on faith in the finished work of Christ. Instead of jabbing others over what they are doing wrong, they should be willing to face the person and instruct them in what they should be doing right. Some people may simply lack proper instruction. Be careful with those pointy fingers. Such an attitude might lead others to wonder if you are a Christian yourself.

Lord God, thank You that salvation has been made so simple for us. You sent Jesus to accomplish what we could not, He then gave His life in exchange for what is wrong with us, and through faith in that we are saved. The atonement is provided, the substitution is accepted, and our misdeeds are no longer considered. Thank You for this marvelous gift of life and restoration. Help us to be willing to share it with others. Amen.

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