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… Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:3-4,8, NIV)
The church’s obligation to care for the neglected widows was not greater than the family’s obligation. We have responsibility to our parents and our grandparents, to provide for them.
There are some people in this world – and so far as I can tell they exist in every nation on earth – who are always looking for a way to make others pay for what they should pay for. They are users, manipulators, stingy, and greedy. When there is something that they should pay they first try to find a way for someone else to pay for it. They look for a way out of every responsibility and obligation.
They may appear simply as being careful with money, but something else is going on in their hearts. Many people are careful with money while remaining honest and responsible. There is nothing morally wrong with driving a hard bargain, with seeking to get the most for your money. But there is something wrong in shirking responsibility, of being blatantly dishonest and selfish.
Our attitude toward all that we spend – whether it is money or energy or any commodity – should be marked by faith in God and obedience to His command.
Faith in God motivates us to give to the things of God. It is marked by gratitude and expectation of God’s future blessings. We work and we give and we spend in faith that all of this comes from God. In faith we do not need to live in fear or insecurity. We can trust God in all things. While not being foolishly optimistic, or blatantly irresponsible, we can live and share and enjoy life.
Obedience is also an expression of our faith, and it should be heart-felt and not done begrudgingly. We should be grateful for our parents, recognizing the sacrifices they made for us and repay them in kind. We should be happy to do so.
We should also give to the support of the Lord’s work, the church, in gratitude, “For the Lord loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Our fears should not dominate our thoughts, rather we should exercise faith in God in all circumstances.
Suppose the whole economy collapsed and every investment you made was lost. What would your faith be in? What or who would you turn to for help? First, the Christian would turn to God and pray, looking for His hand. Secondly, we would look to see what we could do with our own resources that remained – our abilities, opportunities, etc. Thirdly, we would look to our family and perhaps to our friends.
So if that terrible day would come, how would you rather face it? With a God who rewards faithfulness? With a heart that is confidence in its own ability? With family and friends with whom we have shared life’s blessings? Or do you think you would be better to face this all alone?
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. We will trust in Him and give Him the first fruit of our earnings. We will look for His provision and believe that He can enable us to work and support ourselves. We will be generous with family and friends and trust that, as the Scripture says, “A generous man will prosper, whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Prov. 11:25).