REAL NEEDS AND REAL RESPONSIBILITIES
If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.
1 Timothy 5:16
From its earliest days, the church has sought to meet the needs of those who need help: widows (see Acts 6:1-3), hungry first-century believers in Judea (see Acts 11:29), “anyone who had need” (Acts 4:35).
But how do you discover who is truly needy? Alfred Plummer elaborates on Paul’s guidelines to Timothy.
WALK WITH ALFRED PLUMMER
“The church accepts the duty which it teaches of ‘providing for its own.’
“But it ought not to be burdened with the support of any but those who are truly in need.
“The near relations of those in need must be taught to leave the church free to relieve those who have no near relations to support them.
“Paul has no intention of creating a welfare class. So long as they can, the needy must maintain themselves. When they have ceased to be able to do this, they must be supported by their family. If they have no one to support them, the church must undertake their support.
“Widows as a rule ought to be supported by their own relations. Only in exceptional cases where there are no relations who can help ought the church to have to undertake this duty.”
WALK CLOSER TO GOD
Paul’s guidelines to Timothy are detailed and time-consuming—both to read and to implement.
It’s much easier to tell someone in need, “I’ll pray for you,” than to say, “I’ll prepare a meal for you.” It’s much cheaper to rely on welfare than to be responsible for the welfare of someone you love.
Once a need has been clearly established in the life of another, God’s will is clear.
Commenting on a previous generation of Christians, one pagan emperor remarked, “They feed not only their poor but ours also.”
Can that be said of your generation as well?