“No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, 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 saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.”
In the last several verses, Paul was giving Timothy some general guidelines as to how widows should be treated in the church, and who should care for them. Now he becomes a little more specific, and gives a few requirements that have to apply before the widow can be…I don’t know…shown the “proper recognition,” I guess.
First of all, the widow has to be over sixty years old. The verses after these talk about young widows, so I’m sure the reason why will be explained there.
Second, the widow couldn’t have divorced and remarried. I wonder why this was so important? Perhaps it was a purity thing. Perhaps it was a “one flesh” thing. Perhaps it was a “shall not be put asunder” thing. I don’t really know. But it was important to Paul, so I think it deserves some studying.
Thirdly, the widow had to have a reputation for being an all-around good woman. People who are ready to do every good work deserve special care. But instead of just ending the list there, Paul specifically describes a few things the widow had to have excelled at.
For instance, if she “brought up” children. BEARING children is God’s will ~ bringing them up, RAISING them, is a choice. How many stories have we heard of people abandoning their child? How many MORE have we heard ~ stories beyond count as the days pass by ~ of a mother having an abortion so she didn’t have to raise her child?
Hospitality is a big part of being a Christian, but like I mentioned in the previous post about the verses before these, widows were employed by the church to take care of people. Hospitality was literally their job if they were a church widow. That’s why it was so important that she was hospitable.
“Washing the feet of the saints” probably means entertaining Christian ministers on their travelers. I bet Paul stayed with widows on his journeys. I wonder what he was thinking about when he added this on the list of requirements?
And finally, she had to be willing to help those who needed it. This was also a part of her job in the church. But, for a widow cared for and employed by the church, it was probably even more important. Those who are shown mercy in their distress must show mercy in their prosperity ~ in other words, if you’re helped when you need it, you should help others when they need it. It’s just the right thing to do.