Friday, March 25, 2011

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 27, 2011

(A worshipful life must include serving and caring for others)
(1 Timothy 5)

In 1 Timothy 5, Paul expands upon his instructions to Timothy as to how Christians should serve each other, as members of the Body of CHRIST. His overall advice to the young pastor, regarding how he should handle and interact with the various age-groups in the church, was that he treat them, as he would corresponding members of his own personal family.
In verses 1-2, he advises Timothy to never speak harshly to an older man, but rather, he should appeal to him respectfully at all times, as he would his own father. He was also to treat older women as he would his own mother, younger men, as he would his own brother, and younger women, with all the purity of one who was his own sister. In fact, they must all be handled with an attitude of love and respect. It is a well-known fact of life that, any person, whom we have hurt, or offended, is highly unlikely to respond positively to our instructions or guidance.
In verses 3-5, Paul says that children and grandchildren should honor their parents who are widows, by meeting their needs when they are old in age, and may be lacking in wealth or health. Paul calls this, “putting your religion into practice”. This is something that very much pleases GOD. Those professed Christians, who won’t take care of their own relatives, especially those living in the same household with them, automatically deny what they say they believe, and are, in fact, worse than unbelievers (v. 8).
Relatives must take the responsibility of caring for family members and not put the burden on the church (v. 16). But if a widow, sixty years or older, has no other family, and is truly alone in the world, and, she has placed her hope in GOD for help, in much prayer, it is the Christian duty of the members of the church to see after and care for her needs.
However, Paul does make exceptions, when he excludes this obligatory treatment of family members in situations where a widow may be living for pleasure, or, leading a lifestyle that displays self-indulgence. Such people require no help from the church, because of their luxurious living, and are certainly not qualified to contribute to others in the church body, because of their lifestyle, as they themselves, show that they are spiritually dead, through their behavior (v.6).
Another exception would be younger widows, presumably, those under sixty years of age, and particularly those who are still in their child-bearing years, whose physical desires can still overpower their devotion to CHRIST, and, who may still want to re-marry. In those cases, they should re-marry, rather than to live idly, leaving themselves open to the temptations and wiles of satan, (i.e. gossiping and meddling into other folks business, etc. - Vs. 11-15).
In times past, even Greek law required sons and daughters to support and care for their elderly and disabled parents. Likewise, New Testament writers also tell of how GOD holds and honors that same ideology for believers. And so, the support of our parents, who are in need, is an essential part of the Christian Faith and duty, as well. Oh, I’m sure that there is no shortage of people out there who will say, quite honestly, that one, or both of their parents failed miserably in their responsibilities to them as children, and they never really had a chance to develop a child-parent relationship. However, because there is sin in the world, the world holds no perfect scenarios for its inhabitants, and, it never will. At least not until CHRIST returns, to usher in HIS millennial Kingdom, here on earth. Nevertheless, when we became Christians, we also became bound by the will of GOD, and the responsibilities HE gave each of us personally. And the most basic of those responsibilities is that we love one another, unconditionally. And that doesn’t just include family members, as even unbelievers can do that. Our charge is to love everybody as GOD loves us.
The “Right thing to do” still remains, the right thing to do, and it will not ever change, because of the trials and circumstances of this life. GOD’s will, and word, remains constant through the chances, and changes in life, and HE will not adjust HIS standards, for any reason. Each and every new day gives us an opportunity to correct old and unfortunate family dysfunctions. And we must take advantage of those opportunities, and make sure that patterns of abuse and abandonment do not carry over, into the next generation. That, is our responsibility, to our personal families, to our Christian Family, and especially, to GOD.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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