Saturday after the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Timothy 5:1-25 (NKJV)
1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger as sisters, with all purity. 3 Honor widows who are really widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.
5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. 7 And these things command, that they may be blameless. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
9 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, 10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work. 11 But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, 12 having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. 13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. 14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 15 For some have already turned aside after Satan. 16 If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.
17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. 20 Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.
21 I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality. 22 Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure. 23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities. 24 Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. 25 Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.
As St. Paul instructs Pastor Timothy in how to conduct his God-given ministry in a God-pleasing way, he teaches him how to behave among various groups of people in his congregation. Timothy is given special instructions regarding widows, since widows, like orphans, had few opportunities to support themselves financially in the first century A.D. A few principles stand out in the apostle’s instructions. First, those who can provide for themselves should provide for themselves. Second, Christians are to support the members of their own families who are truly in need. Third, churches are to offer ongoing support to their needy members, but only after all other avenues for support have been exhausted. And fourth, regular, ongoing support is to be directed only toward those who have devoted themselves to serving the saints and to setting a godly example.
God’s people are also commanded by God to honor and to support financially their elders, that is, their pastors, who faithfully carry out their calling to labor in the word and doctrine. Pastors are not to be accused of sin lightly. But where there is clear evidence they have sinned, they are to be rebuked publicly, as Augustine also taught, “Sins that are committed publicly should be rebuked publicly; sins that are committed privately should be rebuked privately.” In this way, public sin will be clearly recognized as sin, and God’s people will not be led astray.
Almighty and Everlasting God, give to us the increase of faith, hope, and love, and that we may obtain what You promise, make us to love what You command; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.