“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, too, so that no one may be open to blame. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Paul spends an awful lot of time explaining to Timothy how widows should be treated. Perhaps there was a lot of confusion about it in the church Timothy was leading at the time, or maybe Timothy himself was unsure of whose responsibility it was to care for them.
Back then, widows were employed by the church to tend to the sick and aged. The “proper recognition” that Paul is referring to includes not only honoring them, but maintaining them and caring for them…and not only that, but also giving them a job to do in the church, because who enjoys having nothing to do all the time? Trust me, as someone who spent a solid six years doing next to nothing, it is NOT as great as it sounds.
“But,” Paul adds, “it shouldn’t be the church’s job to take care of every widow.” The church should only have to maintain a widow if she doesn’t have any family.
Paul says here that children should have piety ~ respect of a child for his parents ~ and repay their parents and grandparents by caring for them, but if you think about it, that’s a TINY thing to do for them in the light of all the things they’ve done for you. They’ve cared for you, educated you, given you a foundation…and all you can give them in return is a little loving kindness when they need it.
Verses 5 and 6 aren’t necessarily exclusive only to widows. It is the duty and comfort of those in need to trust in God. God sometimes brings people into situations where they have nothing else to trust in so they can learn to more comfortably trust Him. And those who trust Him pray a lot, to give glory to Him and to commit themselves to His guidance. But those who focus on pleasure are spiritually dead, enveloped in sin.
He then moves on a little further from the widow subject. “Give the people these instructions so no one can be open to blame” brings up that little reminder again that everyone will be held accountable for what they know.
Paul’s saying that people who spend money on their own desires rather than the needs of their family, who are their own flesh and blood ~ essentially parts of themselves ~ are worse than infidels. That’s a harsh word no matter what era of history you live in!
The law of Moses says “Honor thy father and mother.” You’d think that, back then, that would have been well-known and a pretty straightforward rule to follow! But the religious leaders in those days added a bunch of their own rules on to Moses’ law, which really confused things. Then Christ came, and His design confirmed that the law of Moses was right all along. Of course it was. Who do you think GAVE Moses that law?!