Sermon – Band of Widows (1 Timothy 5:1 – 5:16) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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1 Timothy 2023

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Sermon 13 of 18

Band of Widows

Pete Woodcock, 1 Timothy 5:1 - 5:16, 7 May 2023

Continuing our series in 1 Timothy, Pete preaches from 1 Timothy 5:1-16. In these verses Paul gives Timothy instructions on how widows in the church are to be treated and how they should behave. How are we to treat the weak and vulnerable in the church in our modern context?

1 Timothy 5:1 - 5:16

5:1 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry 12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. 15 For some have already strayed after Satan. 16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Okay. We're going to have our reading now and we'll sing before Pete comes to preach. But we're gonna have our reading. We're gonna read from 1 Timothy chapter 5, first of all.

1 sympathy chapter 5 versus 1 to 16. Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters with absolute purity. Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, These should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents for this is pleasing to God.

The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions so that no 1 may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives and especially for their own household has denied the faith at is worse than an unbeliever. No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over 60, has been faithful to her husband and is well known for her good deeds.

Such as bringing up children showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord's people, helping those in trouble, and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their central desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves because they have broken their first pledge besides they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers but also busybodies who talk nonsense saying things they ought not to.

So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes, and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan. 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. If you want to keep a bookmark or a finger in that passage, we're now going to have another reading from deuteronomy. Chapter 24, deuteronomy chapter 24, and we're gonna read verses 17 to 22.

Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord, your God, redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this. When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheep, do not go back to get it, leave it for the foreigner. The fatherless and the widow so that the lord your God may bless you in all the works of your hands.

When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner fatherless and the widow. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt.

That is why I command you to do this. Morning. My name's Pete Woodcock. I'm 1 of the elder pastors of this church. Lovely to have you with us.

If you're new, then really good to see you. Just something about tonight, it is quite exciting to be able to do an open air down Camry Park Road. Can I encourage you to come if you can? 6 o'clock, it'll be a very short service I'm speaking on how to how do you get to see the king? How would you get to see the king?

How would you be invited to that ceremony yesterday if you saw it. So it'll be a very simple evangelistic talk that hopefully people will come to know King Jesus through. So if you can't come, do pray. Do pray for that. If not, it would be great to come.

Let me pray. Father help us now, to have ears to hear, very tricky passage. And so please help us to apply our minds to this. And and our hearts too. There are things here that we need to be moved by.

And so help us in this, we pray. In Jesus' name, r m. I think it's right in saying that how how good culture or a society or a country is, is revealed in how it treats the weakest and most vulnerable members. We say that again because it's a very important statement, I think. How good a culture or society or a country is is actually revealed in how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members.

Sometime ago, I read a very powerful short story by a woman called Ursula k Lagin. I don't know whether you've heard of it. She's very famous science writer, and this was a short story called the ones who walk away from Omellus. Omellus is a town full of happiness, and she paints this picture very well in this short story. Healthy, prosperous people, It's a remarkably beautiful town full of anything and everything that you would want, food, and riches, and delights, and entertainments and really pleasant joyful people.

The houses are beautiful, the sun is always shining and there's flowers everywhere. It's it's a very beautiful town, but there's 1 dark secret It's a secret but it's not a secret. It's an open secret. It's 1 that everybody knows, but everybody tries to hush up and not talk about. In the basement of 1 of the most beautiful public buildings is a cellar.

And the cellar has 1 locked door and no windows. The only light that comes through is through dusty little cracks through the doors or through the ceiling and walls and things. It's horrible cellar. It's damp. It stinks.

And it's filthy. And in that cellar is a small child sitting on a hard chair. The child looks like it's 6 years old, but in fact it's 10 years. It's been there 10 years. No 1 knows whether the child is a boy or a girl, The child is scared constantly, got serious mental health issues, is deeply hungry all the time, And if the child does speak, manage to speak out any words, the child says, I will be good.

Please let me out. And that's the twist in this short story. The town's prosperity and beauty are somehow totally dependent on the suffering of this child. If they let the child out, if they free the vulnerable 1, the town would lose all its comfort and beauty. It's a very powerful story.

I mean, deeply moved when I read it. But back to my opening comment. How good a culture or a society or a country is is revealed in how it treats its weakest. And most vulnerable members. See that town, Ormellus looks fantastic.

But really it's rotten because of how it treats its most vulnerable member. And that we could spend a lot of time spotlighting Britain, if you like. How does Britain treat its weakest the most vulnerable vulnerable members. What about the unborn child? They're the weakest and most vulnerable aren't they?

How does Britain treat them? What about the old and the frail and the refugees? How do we treat refugees? And the weak and the poor in mind and body? How do we treat those?

You know, do we do we want to keep them where they are or destroy them or not talk about destroying them so that we can have a free comfortable life? Or we could go broader. We could talk about the slave children in the in the minds. Around the world working all hours of the day to get lithium for our batteries so that we can have battery driven cars and fresh air, while they'll never see that. It's only powerful, isn't it?

Those powerful things, aren't they? So we could talk about them, but actually I'm gonna come closer. I want us to talk about church this morning. We're in a section in this amazing book, and I think it's been very inspiring certainly for me in in in studying it. We're in this section in this letter of Paul, the Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So this is the same as the Lord Jesus speaking. We've seen that. And he's writing to Timothy, a younger minister. And Paul challenged Timothy in chapter 4 and verse 16, he says, What's your life and your doctoring closely? Persevere in them because if you do, you will save yourself and your heroes.

We looked at that last week. And how does he do that well by verse 13 of chapter 4 devote yourselves to the public reading of scripture to preaching and teaching. That will be the thing that really saves you and your heroes. As the word of God is taught to you in this world of sin and shame. Now, we're in chapter 5, and I have to say I've grappled with this this week.

Chapter, what on earth does this mean for us today? Well, let's see if it works. Chapter 5 is a continuation. There isn't chapter headings in the original. This is the problem.

So chapter 5 is that a continuation And it's a of what Paul has been saying about ministry to Timothy. And it's a sort of coming through the door, chapter 5. When you get into chapter 5 worst first 1. It's like the the building of the church the door of the church building has been opened and we've walked in to meet the people. And some of those people are the most vulnerable and the weakest members of society that are in the church.

So what is Timothy to do with them? Is he to sort of instantly set up sort of food banks for ephesus. Is that a good way of treating the vulnerable and the and the weak? Is he just to hand out money and and and and help for people. What was he meant to do?

Well, this is a passage that's seriously thinking about that issue. Thinking about how do we help vulnerable people? It wants to help vulnerable people, but it's not always the best thing just to hand out as we'll see it. As we go on. He wants Timothy to apply the gospel even to how we treat vulnerable weak people.

But first of all, the reminder is that church is not an organization and it's not a welfare system. It's a family. That's the first thing he reminds Timothy of before we get into the vulnerable. And here's my first point, how to treat the church family? How to treat the church family?

You get it in verses 1 and 2. Just have a look down at them. Been blown away by these verses to be quite frank. They're so intimate that they're actually very beautiful. You open the door of church building and there's a real family, or at least that's what Paul wants Timothy to see when he goes to Ephysis church.

There's a real family there. There are fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters. And what timoth what Paul is saying to Timothy see, you're not just ministering to a crowd. You're not just ministering to a people. People are made up of fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and widows and rich and poor and orphans, and those from other nationalities and refugees, People are older and younger.

They're not just an audience. People are men and people are women, people are male, and people are female, people are boys and people are girls. And Timothy, Ministry needs to reflect these different relationships that you have. It's not just ministry. If you're gonna administer the Word of God to people, you can't ignore relational differences.

You must administer in a way that's appropriate to the different people within the church. And leaders who can't just be insensitive and make up rules and laws or whatever it is you're gonna do and treat everybody alike I mean, this is 1 of the difficulties of pastoral care. Some people want a whole load of rules that you treat everybody point point point. It doesn't work like that because people are not just people, their fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters of men and women, and boys and girls. So leaders need to understand the pressures of that age group and this age group and that gender and this gender.

And it's hard work understanding that, Timothy, Paul is saying. Don't just read an old commentary and regurgitate an old sermon. It doesn't work. Don't go on the chat's GPT and write I wanna sermon on this subject and it writes it for you believe it or not in 3 seconds, I've tried it. It's extraordinary.

It takes me like a a whole week to write a sermon, but chat GPT, 3 seconds. I even have Ben put in once what's Pete Woodcock of Kingston Callerstone's sermon gonna be next. And in 3 seconds, it told me what my sermon was gonna be next week. Thankfully, it said, something about Jesus. I was quite chuffed with that.

You can't just regurgitate. It's not just reading words and dump it. This is the household of God. It's not an audience. That you travel around with the same sermon or the same comedy for every single audience you meet.

These are people who are fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and older ones and younger ones. The way you treat people Paul is saying to Timothy depends on how you see them. Look at verse 1. Do not rebuke an older man harshly but exhort him as if he were your father. Timothy, look at older men in the congregation in ephesus.

And treat them like a father. Yeah? These older men have experiences. These older men have survived crisis in their life. Whoever they are, they'll have to develop some kind of understanding or wisdom.

Maybe not on everything, but actually they've live longer than you, and they may know more than you. So when you have to rebuke an older man in the church, which you will have to do, if you're a minister of the gospel. And and you'll you'll see he has to later on in chapter 6 when the rich people are there, When you have to rebuke people, you don't go in first of all with your your fists up like a young man ready for a fight. You haven't got all your arguments lined up like a bullet in a machine gun. Ready to vlog him?

You go there, treating them as your father as an older member See, again, this is where the Asian communities can teach us a lot of British people. Older people are to be respected. And that's what he's saying. Exought an older man like a father. Younger ministers And I have been 1.

And I'm embarrassed to say this, but I know it because I've been there. Younger ministers like Timothy, this blamed Timothy, Very often see things very clearly than older people, especially if you're reading a new thing and you've discovered a doctrine, and it's all fresh in your mind. And it's brand new. But then you think, because I understand it clearly, I have a right to speak to people without any respect utterly clearly. And you get young men doing that sort of stuff.

Without any respect to their heroes, you often get this on the internet. The way young men speak sometimes. Galatians chapter 6 and verse 1 says brothers and sisters If someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the spirit, you who are spiritual, should restore that person gently. And then watch yourself, in case you fall into the sin. So you don't come up all copy as if you can survive temptation.

You come humbly knowing that you're a sinner and you try to restore them gently. And so Paul is saying, you don't have to prove a point. It's not about winning arguments. It's about restoring family members. And wouldn't it be lovely to restore your father?

See what he's saying? In Genesis 9, there's an amazing story. Don't know whether you know it, but Noah gone through the flood, obedient, and all that stuff, the ark, you know, comes up lands on Mount Arab or wherever on land, and then Noah gets off and the first thing he does is is set up an altar I I think and give praise to God. The second thing he does is to grow some a vineyard and to produce wine, and he gets drunk. So here's this godly man that's been through the flood and now he's drunk, and he's naked and drunk.

I don't know what he's been up to, we're not told, but he's naked and drunk, and he's asleep. And 1 of his sons comes in and goes out and says, Dad, he's naked and drunk. And the other 2 brothers treat him with respect. And they take a cloak and they walk backwards so they don't see their dad sin, and they cover him up. Now there are public sins that we need to reveal to authorities.

You know that, But a lot of with treating an older man is wanting to cover him up for his own good and for the good of the people. Paul says, we're not compromising with sin. We're not watering down sin or truth But first of all, treat them as fathers, yeah, with respect. Don't show them up Look at verse 1 in the second half. Treat younger men as brothers.

Again, Paul is reminding Timothy that this is a family affair here. This is family relationship that you're involved with. Young younger men, he says, they're not rivals. Yeah? They're not enemies, they're brothers.

And so as a brother, you should be able to speak openly and honestly to each other. But with respect, your equals, you're not better, you're not above, you're not lower. That's very interesting this. We'll come on to it again in a minute. But treat those who are senior as fathers, treat those who are junior as equals.

Isn't that interesting? Yeah? Don't put young men down all the time in other words. You're older than the young men, you're a minister and that you've got young men that you're a minister don't keep putting them down. Yeah.

Encourage them to step up. That's what he's saying. It's interesting getting older. It's a very, very strange thing, really, isn't it? I'm older now.

I'm an older minister. According to the younger ministers that are under me, I'm coming to the end of my ministry and should be put away pretty soon. Yeah? So you have Tom and you have Ben and you have Rory and others that are saying that sort of stuff to me all the time. It's interesting trying to handle that as an older man.

You know? They come with a book. They've just read a book. And with a doctrine, they've just understood. And they're coming, Pete, look at this, and I'm thinking, mate, I read that stuff like 30 years ago, mate.

I I've been preaching that all my life, don't you listen? Yeah. Now I could do that or I could say, oh, that's fantastic. What does it mean? What about this?

Have you thought of that? You encourage them. That's what he's saying. Look at verse 2, the second the first half. Older women, treat older women as mothers.

Not mother in laws. That's that's hard in there. But but as mothers, yeah, And Paul himself does that if you read the end of Romans 16, he talks about Rufus Rufus' mother, and he said she was a mother to me. Treatin order women as mothers. Yeah?

Look at verse the second half of verse 2. Younger women and sisters with absolute purity, be careful, Timothy, treat them as sisters, You're not above them, you're not under them, you're equal, but watch it. So he's not he understands the different gender issues here. To protect we'll get onto the agenda thing in a minute, but it's ridiculous to think that there isn't. And there is, young man.

He knows. So many ministers have fallen on this 1. So many have fallen on this 1. So treat younger women as sisters, but be careful with absolute purity. You know what he's saying, don't you?

Now what I find very interesting here is that Timothy the pastor is to treat older men as his seniors, but younger men as his equals. It's interesting dynamic there if you think about it. He doesn't treat younger men as his sons. He doesn't treat younger women as his daughters. But as his equals, as his siblings.

I want I I think I just wanna say this. Do you see the lack of hierarchy that's going on in the church? Here. Do you see that? And I think that's I think that's really important.

The lack of hierarchy, I mean, if you saw that The ceremony is yesterday. That's fantastic, isn't it? There's a lot of history in it. We probably all love that sort of stuff. I do.

I love the history. But the hierarchy I mean, who are these blokes? This blokes got a bigger hat than him, and he's got a smaller hat than him, and he's got a whack in bald head. Who was that creepy bloke next to next to sorry. Sorry.

Very careful. But there was a creepy bloke next to did you see him? 1 big tall oh, I can't get out of that now. I was I was texting. Who's the creepy bloke next to the king, you know, cuts touching him all the time.

Anyway, but he was probably some super, you know, arch thing. Then there's a not a little something here and there's no hierarchy in in the bible, like that. Yeah? His authority, Timothy Timothy's authority comes from the word of God he preaches. Not in and of himself, per se.

Now it's true. You'll see next week when we look at verse 17 that a preacher should be given double honor but he's given a double honor because he's a preacher and he's not to sort of claim the double honor himself. He's to treat younger men. As equals. It's just an interesting thought that.

The other thing I think that's so important here before we move on is this understanding of the gender relationships And it's really struck me, actually. A genderless society that people seem to be calling us to won't work. It can't work because it treats everybody as if they're exactly the same regardless of who they are. A calling for a genderless society or that a fluid gender society is a disaster as far as I can see from these verses. Here we're being shown that if you were to love and serve all people, which Paul is calling Timothy to do, If he is to love and serve all people, he needs to understand that people are not just people.

They're different people. And not to understand that will be to break down relationships and to break down families. And if you're a minister, you'll be a bland minister if you're just speaking generally to people. Paul already said you need to point things out. You need to rebuke an older man as is your father.

You see? You're treating people differently I think that's the thing that we learned from this. And then another thing I think we get from this first point is this wonderful arena for bringing children up in our society today is church. There isn't anything better. They can understand the differences now between a father and a mother and a sister and a brother and men and women.

It's very often said and I've heard it said many, many times over the years that the children and young people at your church are able to speak to adults. Why? Because they're mingling with fathers and brothers and sisters They're mingling with adults. And we need to keep that up. And I I mean, sometimes we need to sort of push some more respect.

I'm not sure whether children should push in and and eat before people, older people. You know? I think we need to think that through sometimes. So that we're shape saying to children, they are older. You respect them.

But the older 1 isn't just looking down, they're saying, boys and girls, they need to learn. Let's grow them in Christ. It's a loving family. That's the first point. Now with that, it might become to the second point, which is the majority of the rest of this a bit of a chapter that we read.

And here's my second point, how to deal with the needs of the needy in church. First of all, churches family, and we treat it as a family. Now, what about those family members that are very weak and very vulnerable in society? And so Paul looks at the widows. I think he could have looked at different people, but he's looking at the widows.

And right from the beginning of the church itself, the church has always had a heart and concern for the widows and the orphans. In acts chapter 6, which if you like is the story of the early church found in the bible, In acts chapter 6, there's there's the establishing of a group of of leaders to help distribute daily food to the widows. Now there must have been a lot of widows because it took 7 Godly men to do that. So you see the church had attracted widows, the vulnerable, the weak. If you read the history books, it's exactly what happened.

The week and the vulnerable were attracted to the church. Why? Because they were treated as humans. If you go to acts 9, you have that wonderful story. It was 1 of my favorite sermons I ever preached.

And if you wanna hear it, you can go online. On a woman called Tabitha or Dorker. She was had both names. She's a wonderful woman helping who the poor widows. Beautiful story.

And of course, you see Jesus, when he's when the the son of the widow of Nahn was who was dead, he went and raised the son to life again. And primarily, Jesus on the cross, mean, imagine this, he's on the cross with all that was going on, spiritually, emotionally, physically, that all was going on at the cross, he looks down at his mother and knows that his mother is a widow, and he wants to make sure as the eldest son that she's kept, you know, she's gonna be alright. And he says to John, on the cross. Make sure you look after her. That's your mother now.

Yeah? It's extraordinary. James, the brother of Jesus writes in the new testament in James 1. Listen. Religion that God our father accepts pure and faultless is this.

If you wanna follow God, if you want a religion that follows God, it's this. To look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. You look after orphans and widows. You're not polluted by the world that see that they're they're nothing. And of course, if you go back to the old testament, I can't show you how many verses, there's tons of them.

It's a constant theme that God is the God of the fatherless and the foreigner, the alien they're often called, and the widow. And you saw that in the deuteronomy reading. Go back and read that again. So Paul turns to the widows in the church. They have the greatest need.

And they're a growing number in broken families now. Remember? And a church and we as a church should be and I hope we are concerned for these growing widows and orphans and defenseless foreign people in our land. I hope we are. I hope we're growing in that love.

Even as our culture seems to Go the other way. But having said that, we gotta be wise. 1 bible preacher says this, the church must be careful not to waste its resources on people who really are not in need. Whether we like to admit it or not, there are individuals and entire families that milk the local churches. While they themselves refuse to work or use their own resources wisely, As long as they can get handouts from the church, why bother to work?

So we gotta be wise. Otherwise, we're keeping people in their sin and their lack of dignity. The bible was very helpful because Galatians Paul writes this about our priorities. He says therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of God. So the family of God, the household of God are our first priority, believers.

And here Paul then qualifies what a what he would call a real widow that the church should support. What's a real widow that the church should support? Now I I understand we're gonna come to a point where some of you women are gonna be flipping angry. Just like to say, these aren't my words these are the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ words. Yeah?

Yeah? So if you want to argue with the Lord Jesus Christ, then fine. But don't argue with me. Yeah? If you've got a different interpretation, it's probably because you're wrong.

So he's gonna spell out what is a real widow. Let's have a look at this bit of detail, but come on, stick at it. Because I actually think this is When I was first down to preaches, I thought brilliant. Typical Tom, young man, often his honeymoon or whatever it is. 10 year celebration, leaves me with this.

That's a typical young man. Then I've fallen and treated him as an equal. And I'm quite excited this now, because I think it really helps us in this world that we're in. So look at verse 3 then. Let's do some work.

You're gonna have to do some work. Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. The Greek is much more blunt. The Greek says honor widows who truly widows. Honor widows who truly widows.

Honor widows who truly are widows. Yeah. So there are widows and widows, you're saying. And he says a real it's it's a bit like I mean, I don't know if there's this influx, isn't there of the false widow spider? You have them now?

Yeah. I've suddenly got a load of Fox Widow spiders. Don't worry about the Fox Widow spiders. But do worry about the black widow spider. Now, that's probably a very bad illustration.

But what he's saying is worry about the real widows, not the fox widows, and you've got that here. And just before he defines false widows, but he said, real widows. He says, honor those real widows. Now that's an extraordinary word, isn't it? Honor the widows.

And the word honor there means 2 things, respect and provide for. Like you get honorarium, money, respect, and provide for. It's the word used for owning your father and mother. Honor them, the weak, the vulnerable, the alien, the orphan, they're the ones. That the world doesn't honor but the church honors.

You don't keep them hidden in a cellar. You get them out and put them on a throne. Yeah? You honor the week. That's his first thing.

But then have a look at what a real we do is. Let's keep going. A real widow that the church should support is without any family or other human worldly support. Look at verse 5. The widow who is really in need, that phrase again is the real widow.

The widow who is really in need and and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray to ask God for help. In other words, there's no 1 else but God to help her. She has no family support. Look at verse 4, But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents for this is pleasing to God. Responsibility for the widows is for the children and the grandchildren.

That's pleasing to God. The relatives should care not the church first of all. The relatives should care, not the church first of all. If she's got relatives, then they should be looking after her. Don't just dump it on the church.

Yeah? And that is part of honoring your father and mother. And if a Christian relative is unwilling to support their family member, then look at verse 8. This is so powerful. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives and especially for their own household has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

What's worse than an unbeliever? Someone knows the truth and doesn't do it. This is a fake believer whether it's a he or she. It's a fake believer. And it certainly isn't pleasing to God.

And no 1 can pretend or they may pretend. They're only pretending to honor God if they don't honor their father or mother. It's a pretense. You can't say I honor God, the God that says you must honor your father and mother. So the real widow has no human help.

The real widow just looks to God Who is the godly she looks to? The defender of widows and orphans. So if you're a man of God, Timothy, And God is the defender of widows and orphans orphans, and you've got a real widow in your midst. If you don't look after her, you can't be a man of God. You gotta look after the vulnerable.

Otherwise, you're not a man of God. He's saying that sort of stuff. And if you wanna know what a real widow looks like, you go to Luke. I think it's chapter 2, maybe wrong there. Could you look it up?

2 or 3 or something like that? You've got Anna who's in the temple, and she's 84 years old. She's was married only for 7 years. But now she's 87 years old, 84 years old, in the temple being looked after the temple, and guess who she meets. The Lord Jesus Christ.

She's 1 of the first ones to meet. That's how honored Jesus thought. When he was being born, he was thinking, great. I'm gonna meet Anna. An Anna met Jesus in the temple.

I don't know. Doesn't matter about the chapter. A real widow that the church should support then has no family support. It just relies on God. And a real widow that the church support is a faithful believer.

Look at verse 5 again. The widow who is really in need and left alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and ask God for help. She's a faithful believer, praying. Look at verse 9, the second half of verse 9, and then 10. She has been faithful to her husband, is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospice loyalty washing the feet of the Lord's people, helping those in trouble and devoting yourself to all kinds of good deeds.

This is a woman that's involved in the church. She's clearly a believer. She washes feet. Yeah? All that stands in other words she's a servant.

And Timothy, he's been told you've gotta test elders. We've seen that. You've got to test Deacons, we've seen that, and now you've got to test widows. Make sure they're living godly lives. Are they serving?

In the letter paul writes to Titus, he he he he talked about the older women, he wants them to help. The younger women in the church. He wants them to be a tabitha or a dorcas, like acts chapter 9. And that ministering of the word of God by the older ladies is essential to the church. You could say it's a foundation to church ministry.

We'll come on to that again in a minute. Are you are you with me? A real widow then Has no family support or worldly support is a faithful believer, prays and does things in the church, and a real widow that the church should support is now this is a weird 1. Are you ready for this? At least 60 years old.

Yeah? Are you 60? Karen? How old are you? Look at first 9.

No widow may be put on the list. I'll come back to that. It's a weird phrase. Put on the list of widows unless she is 60 and has been faithful to her husband. Well, I know the second half.

You've been faithful to your husband. That's good. I I don't know whether you're 60 or not. You don't look it, I mean, to be honest. Look about 20 If I was a 20 old man, I'd you know, it would have to be beat with all purity.

Now I'm getting myself into massive trouble. I don't know why he says 60. And I've read and looked up loads of commentaries and no 1 does. I don't know. Perhaps it's because She cut she's unlikely to marry after 60.

Perhaps it's that. Perhaps it's something to do with menopause. I don't know. Perhaps it's got something to do with the fact that she's actually already brought up children and maybe even brought up grandchildren. She's very experienced.

Maybe it's because she's too old to work or something. I don't know. I I really don't know why 60. But he says 60, And I think it's probably got something to do with the list. Did you see that?

No widow may be put on the list of widows. Unless she's over 60. It may have something to do that. Now historians, Christian, non Christian historians, Think that there was some sort of league of senior widows in the churches. Yeah.

I love that. The order of the senior widow. Yeah? The band of widows. Yes.

Imagine name coming towards you. Yeah? Toulian, who was a minister at the end of the second century, writes to a church about the registered widows. So it could be the same thing here. And that their job was to teach the younger women.

I do know this though, the 1 thing I do know is throughout the centuries, in thousands and thousands of churches around the world, in all kinds of different cultures, older women are the backbone to any church. I know that. C h spurgeon, the young preacher in Victorian days, massive church. He relied on missus Bartlitz, Missus Bartlett, who had a thousand girls in her Sunday school. And you see how he respected the women that taught and gave their time for it.

Look at verse 9 and 10 again. This widow needs to have been faithful to her husband and is well known for good deeds such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord's people, helping those in trouble devoting herself to all kinds of deeds. If you are all over 60 here, Why wouldn't you spend your time doing that? I mean, that should be your bucket list, dream, if you're a Christian. I mean, why would you spend your time going to the great barrier reef when you could serve the church?

And we are so thankful, and I genuinely mean this in Cornerstone, for the order of senior widows And widows are not just people that have necessarily been married. You know, they're single women. That today, that's a winner in the sort of the way we're talking here. So you may be a single woman, and you're over 16, and boy, you're brilliant in the church. You do so much work.

Okay. So we've got that. But this care for widows, you could see, if the if the church is gonna be like this for widows, and has even got 7 men providing food for the widows on a daily basis. If the church is set up for the vulnerable and the weak, guess what's gonna happen? The vulnerable in a week are gonna come to the church.

So you now gonna be careful because you could they can come for the wrong reasons. We used to call them rice Christians. They only came to church because they got free meal, free rice. I I remember, I mean, this does does happen in in a number of islamic worlds. You know, that's just the way it is.

But you know, I I was reading about an islamic country where the mullahs, the the priests of of Islam will pay Christians to get converted, to become Muslims. Significant money. That's not what we're about. That's false. That's a false false widow.

So Paul spells out those we should not support. Look at verse 6, But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. This is the opposite to the real widow. She's not following God. She's not serving God.

She indulges in her own independence. She's just wanting money and milking so that she can carry on in her own sin. She's actually dead in her sin. Why would we pay for her to carry on being dead in her sin? It will bring the church into just a pute for a start.

Oh, look, they give her the money to do her own pleasures. What a disaster that would be? Spurging was walking along once, and he noticed a drunk coming towards him. And the drunk saw it was spurging because he was a very famous preacher and said, oh, mister spurgeon. I I I'm 1 of you I'm 1 of your converts.

And spurgeon said to him, yes. You're 1 of my converts, but you're certainly not 1 of the lords. Because you're carrying on the same You can't carry on the same if the Lord has come into your life. And that's what's happening here. This is someone who just wants a free meal so they carry on in their sin.

We're not to support them. Don't do that. Or here's another 1. If they have family to support them, we've already seen that. The family should support them.

Or Here we go. Now younger ladies. I've been looking forward to reading this 1. If you're younger Look what he says verse 9. No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over 60.

Look at verse 11. Here we go. Ready like young girls who aren't married or are widows. You ready? Under 60 year olds, Karen?

As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when there's sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they wanna marry. Right. Yeah. There we are.

That's true, isn't it Karen? You look at a hunky man like me and it's just all is so difficult, so difficult for under sixties, theory me. Now what I think he's saying is this, and this is really important. I think he's saying this. I think he's saying You've got to if you wanna help the younger women that are not married or are widows, then to help them is to encourage them to get on with normal life.

A normal life in those days was that that younger woman would get married. I know it's more difficult today, and it may not happen like that today. But that's his point, I think. Don't don't put them on the list but actually help them to take up a normal life, whatever's normal. You get the same thing in in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3, where a man is not working because he thinks the Lord's gonna come.

It's almost exactly the same. And Paul says, He shouldn't eat if he's not working, tell him to go to work, and then he can eat. In other words, get on with normal life. Find the dignity in that. Alright?

And I think that's what he's saying here. And be careful in putting younger women into situations where they might even make oaths to the lord, but it's silly for them to make oaths to the lord. So you have this in church. You don't have to be a minister for long. Before you'll get some young girls, they they say, I've seen missionary, Missus so and so, and I wanna be a missionary, I wanna go to Pappahue Guinea, I don't And you say, well, marriage.

Don't wanna get married. You know, I wanna be a a missionary to patent and to dog. I'm not interested in men. Yeah? And they make all sort of guarantees that they're gonna be a missionary for life, and no man is coming to their life, and then a bloke comes into their life, and whoa.

And then they don't even know where papua new guinea is anymore. That's what happens. So be careful. At treating girls like this, or young men like this. Now I can tell you this, think this is a big problem.

So a few years ago, I was speaking at a conference for apprentices or they were called ministry what what do you call those people? Ministry trainees. And I won't tell you which 1 it was, but it was full of young girls. And very few blokes, but full of young girls. And the churches looked like they were doing good stuff because the churches were saying, look at all the young apprentice girls we've They were not training them for ministry properly.

It was just that we have 4 or 5 of these girls. And you wondered what happens to them. Look at verse 14 because I did find this from some of the young girls. So I counsel younger women to marry, to have children, to manage their homes. And to and and to give the enemy no opportunities for slander.

Don't let them be gossips. And I have to find I I did I did find that some of these young girls because they were put in positions where they were making sort of promises. It didn't feel right. It was using them. Now have nothing wrong with people taking a year out or us training up women?

Get of course, we want to do that. Don't mishear me as someone I think probably has. But don't just mishear me on that. But to to use young girls without trying to get them to get a job and to go normal into into normal life, whatever that is in the culture. Be careful he's saying at least be careful of that.

Think he's saying this. This book is the remarkable book. It's a very angry by Miss McConnell. Miss McConnell was brought up his his his heart to say in Northern Ireland. I mean, he was It was a horrific life this bloke had, 1 of utter abuse.

He wrote a book about his his testimony called The Creek On The Stares. Because whenever his mother came upstairs to do unbelievable things to him, She would put her foot on 1 of the stairs and he'd hear the creak. The creak on the stairs meant he had to hide from his mother Yeah. He grew up with bitterness and anger and impovety, mentally, emotionally, but he was converted in prison by a friend of ours actually, helped lead him to the lord in prison in London. And he's now a minister and his heart is to poor areas of this country and Scotland particularly.

And this book is called The Lisa The Lost, It's about vulnerable people. It's subtitled understanding poverty in the UK and the responsibility of the local church. And he really challenges the church, particularly middle class churches. But what he says is Be careful of just giving out aid. It doesn't help.

And he has these 3 things. He says, of course, there's relief I'm nearly done, so just bear with me. Of course, there's relief, which is temporal and temporary and a media aid, But you've gotta go beyond relief. Obviously, if people have no food and no money or you've gotta help them, But then you've got to turn relief into rehabilitation, which means those people need to start learning to improve their own situation. Then you've got to lead them on into development, so not only are they improving their own lives but other lives.

And he's saying is the top of the church that just gives handouts to widows or whatever. Is that you're only giving relief and you never grow them, and it's a disaster, he says. It's a disaster And so he challenges us to think carefully about doing stuff biblically, and I think that's what Paul is saying here. Of course, there's relief, even to younger widows, even to those under 60. Of course, there's relief to all kinds of orphans and people.

There is. And we need to give relief, and we need to be generous in doing that. But I think what Paul is saying to the younger widows, I want you to to go into life. I want to rehabilitate you. I want you to help so that you're turning to developing others.

So that in the end, you'll be a 60 year old widow that can help. And that is what the gospel does. Ephesians 2 explains the gospel. For it is by grace you have been saved. It's all grace through faith.

And this is not of yourself. It is a gift of God. There's the generosity of God to vulnerable sinners like us. Not by works. So no 1 can boast.

It's the gift of God. But for we are God's workmanship. Created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God has prepared in advance for you to do. To be saved, to be a church member, is not just to be saved and sit there the same. Widows, you've gone through a difficult time.

We give you relief, but we wanna rehabilitate you. I advise you to go and get on with life and get some dignity there. To serve. So whenever Jesus saved people, he didn't just save them and they stayed the same. When he came to blind party mayors, he said, what do you want me to do for you?

Which is a ridiculous question because the bloke was blind. But it isn't a ridiculous question. Because as soon as that blind man can see, he can't be on benefits anymore. He can't put out his pot and ask for relief. He's now got on a massive job to do and that's learn a trade and to grow and be a non blind person.

So Christianity's always seriously helping people. It's not a band aid. It's helping in relief in order to develop, and I think that's what Paul is saying here. And I think that that is for every situation, whoever the vulnerable orphans are, mentally, physically, whatever the abilities that they have or don't have, In the end, we want to not just pay people and chuck some food at the kid in the dungeon. In the cellar.

We wanna help the kid come out of a cellar, feed them, grow them, help them to speak, move them towards, being more of a human so that they can help others. I think that's what Paul is saying here. And it's fantastic, isn't it? That's what the church is doing, and that's how it changes people. That's how Jesus changes people.

He doesn't leave us where we are, but he gives us a job to do. Well, a lot of stuff there. I don't know what is the time. Oh my goodness. A lot of stuff there, and I better stop.

Thank you, brother. Father, we thank you for your word. We thank you that all of scripture is is breathed by you and is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in in righteousness. We need to hear these things, lord, they're tricky. But we pray that now that the seed has been sown in our hearts, you would grow it by the Holy Spirit.

You would make us a generous church that looks out for the vulnerable among us and loves them. That is discerning as to what to do with with certain people and in in certain situations. But above all, we are a church of a family made up of mothers fathers, brothers, sisters, loving 1 another, enjoying 1 another, encouraging 1 another. So father help us with all of these things, in Jesus' name, amen,

Preached by Pete Woodcock
Pete Woodcock photo

Pete is Senior Pastor of Cornerstone and lives in Chessington with his wife Anne who helps oversee the women’s ministry in the church.

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