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1 Timothy 5:1-16: Life in the Family of God Print E-mail
1 Timothy
Sunday, 17 September 2006

Most of us understand the importance of family.  Growing up in a large family, my dad having seven brothers and sisters, I was taught from an early age the importance of family.  I grew up being proud to be a ĎMarshallí and wanting to live up to the name that my father gave me.  Many of you may have had a similar experience and thus put a great emphasis on family.

Yet, what about the family of God?  As you look around this morning at the people sitting next to you in the pews, do you feel love and devotion towards them as you do your own relatives?  Do you consider the older men you fathers and the younger men your brothers?  Do you consider the older women your mothers and the younger women your sisters?  Are you committed to providing for their needs as much as you are committed to providing for the needs of your relatives and those in your own household?  Do you feel love and concern for each and every person gathered here this morning and all those that make up the membership of Trinity Baptist?

According to the Scriptures you should.  You should view each other and fellow Christians as family members.  Paul has been giving Timothy instructions about living out the faith in community.  He has talked about worship and leadership (chapters 2 and 3).  As we looked at last week, he has encouraged Timothy to be a good servant of Christ Jesus and to not let anyone look down on him because of his youth, especially since he was called to the important task of teaching and instructing the Church at Ephesus.  In our passage this week, Paul moves to instructing Timothy on how the fellow believers were to relate to one another and to specific groups.  In chapter 5 he addresses the treatment of men and women in general, widows, and elders (which Mike will look at next week).  Today as we consider his general instructions and those regarding widows, I want to point out three lessons for living as the family of God.  Letís look at these together.

First, (in general) the members of the Church must treat and respect each other as family.

Paulís instructions last week ended with his encouragement of Timothy to not let anyone look down upon him as he ministered.  Yet, the awkward part of this instruction is that Timothy was to exercise authority over men who were older than him.  Is Paul encouraging Timothy in chapter 4 to use his authority in a domineering way over the older men?  No, look at what he says in verse 1.  Timothy is to show the older men respect, just as they are to show him respect as their leader (see 1 Peter 5, Hebrews 13:17).  Timothy is not to lord over them, but he is to encourage them and treat them like a Father.  Thus, Timothy is to show respect where respect is due.

Going on in verses 1-2, Paul gives Timothy instructions for his relating to others in the Church as well.  Look what he says.  Timothy is to treat younger men, or men closer to his own age, as brothers in the faith.  In the same was as the men, Timothy is to treat older women as mothers, showing them honor as well.  As for the younger women, Timothy is to treat them like sisters.  Paul adds here in all purity to emphasize the added temptation of Timothyís relationship with women his age.  In all of this, as well as in other places in the Bible, we see as believers that we are to consider fellow Christians as members of the family of God.  Again, I pose the questions I began my sermon with: when you look around, do you see the members of Trinity Baptist Church as your fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters.  For Glenna and I, who are now living a couple of hours away from our families, this is perhaps easier, but the same is true for us all.  We need to respect each other and treat each other as family.

Second, the members in the Church must continue to take care of their own families.

Since we are now apart of the family of God, does that mean that we can completely disregard our own families?  No.  Although at times we may have to distance ourselves from them due to their beliefs and practices, this does not mean that we are not to see to it that they are provided for.  We see this point clearly in Paulís instructions for taking care of widows.  Look at verses 3 and 4.  Paul is going to tell us more about those who are truly widows, but he begins by telling us that any widows who have children or other family who can take care of them should be taken care of by their families.  In fact, Paul tells us that taking care of widows in our individual families is a way to show godliness.  Thus, as we have seen with the qualifications for elders and deacons, godly living begins in the home.  Families are to take care of their own widows as a part of living out their faith.

Paul drives this point home even further in verses 7-8.  Look at those with me.  Paul uses very harsh language to describe those who do not take of their relatives.  He says that they have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever.  Paul is arguing that even unbelievers know how to take care of their own family members, so surely the Church of God will be faithful in this area.  To turn our backs on our own family members is to deny the faith.  How can we believe in the God who we cannot see and not love our family members who we can see (see 1 John 4:20)?  Indeed, not to take care of our families is a sign of unbelief.

We should also add at this point that Paul views the family as important.  Look at verse 14.  All throughout this passage (and this letter) we see Paulís value of the individual family.  Men and women are to be faithful to each other, carrying out their responsibilities as husbands as wives.  They are to value their children and manage their homes properly.  This is part of faithfully living out what we believe.  Even as this idea was being attacked in Paulís day (see 4:3), so today the value of the family is being bombarded at every turn.  Whether it is the definition of marriage, being one woman and one man, the percentage of marriages that end in divorce, or the value of children verses the value self (as demonstrated in abortion), it is not hard to see that the family is under attack.  Thus, we as Christians must let our minds and beliefs be shaped by the Scriptures.  Part of our obedience to God involves obedience in the area of the family.

Likewise, as Paul warns in verses 14 and 15, we must realize that the Enemy is against the family.  In fact, look at verses 11-15 with me.  There was obviously a problem in Ephesus with the younger widows.  Their passions were leading them away from the faith and possibly to marry unbelievers (v. 11-12).  Not only this, but instead of being an asset to the community as a faithful wife and mother, they were going around spreading gossip and causing trouble.  Thus, Paul says that they need to remarry believing men and avoid such temptation.

In the end, we can never use our devotion to the family of God as a reason to neglect our own families.  Look at how Paul concludes the passage in verse 16.  Widows who have families should be taken care of by the individual families.  As we will see, this allows the Church to take care of those who are truly widows, which leads us to our last lesson this morning.

Third, the members of the Church must take care of those who are truly in need.

As we have already noted, Paul makes a distinction between two groups of widows in this passage.  The first group refers to those who either have family to take care of them or are able to remarry.  Yet, what about the others?  Paul also gives some clear instructions about them as well.

First, he tells Timothy that the Church must use some discernment in helping these widows.  Look first at verses 5-6.  Verse 5 refers to those who are truly widows and are in need.  Yet, Paul warns against widows who are being self-indulgent.  They are not worried about anyone else but themselves.  Paul says that a widow like this is dead even while she lives.  Thus, the Church is not to enable any widow who is simply self-indulgent.  Paul gives some more ways the Church is to discern in verses 9-10.  Look at those with me.  These are not necessarily hard and fast rules, but basically Paul is telling us that the widow is to be tested.  How is she to be tested?  She needs to be over the age of sixty (beyond the age of remarrying in Paulís day).  She needs to have been faithful to her husband (the same idea that is expressed in the qualifications for deacons and elders).  And she needs to have a reputation of good works.  Paul goes on to give examples of how she is to get such a reputation, namely she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of saints, has cared for the afflicted, and (in general) has devoted herself to every good work.  Thus, the true widows are those who do not have family to help them, are not self-indulgent, and have been tested.

Second, once the Church discerns those who are truly widows, then the Church is to be faithful in supporting them.  Paul begins and ends with this thought.  Look at verse 3 and 16b.  The Church is not called to look after everyone for God has given us families to help in this.  Yet, when a widow has true need, then the Church is called to faithfully provide for those needs (be they financial or whatever).  Thus, the members of a Church must take care of those who are truly in need.

At this point, after Paul has given us some clear responsibilities we have toward one another, it would do us good to remind ourselves of the cost of our adoption.  After all, none of us got into the family of God for free.  No, we are members of the family of God because our older brother, Jesus Christ, was willing to become a man, live a perfect life, die on a cross for our sins, and be raised from the dead three days later.  Brothers and sisters we can only address one another as brothers and sisters because of what Christ has accomplished for us at Calvary.  Apart from His work of atonement, we would still be dead in our trespasses and sins and enemies of God.  Yet, through faith in Him, we are now considered a part of the family of God.  In light of such amazing grace, how could we not be joyfully committed to serve one another, to respect one another, and to love one another as family?  Indeed, if you cannot love and serve those sitting around you this morning, then you cannot claim to love and serve God.  May the Lord give us grace to be a faithful family, bringing glory to Christ through our love for one another.  Amen.

 ~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Sunday, 01 October 2006 )

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