1 Timothy 5:1-16 – Honoring God in Our Care for One Another

David Lloyd-George once said, “The true test of a civilization is the way it treats its old people.”

A U.S. News & World Report (4/3/81) article uncovered the ugly fact of brutality against the aged by their own families:

Each year, perhaps a million elderly Americans—or about 1 out of every 25—are abused by relatives…. Few people are aware of such abuse, although it occurs with a frequency only slightly less than child abuse…. Only one in six cases ever comes to the attention of authorities…. Victims are likely to be 75 or older, and women suffer more often than men. The most likely abuser is the son, followed by the daughter and spouse….

Though the article described physical, sexual, and extreme emotional abuse, we in the church are sometimes guilty of another form of abuse toward the elderly: apathy. Perhaps many of you reflect such apathy by responding to the topic of this sermon, “Caring for Widows,” with a wide yawn. I must confess that it isn’t a hot topic that I would pick to preach on. But the very length of Paul’s discussion (14 verses) makes it hard to miss. Maybe God is trying to get our attention on a subject we’re inclined to shrug off. God is concerned that His people be concerned about widows.

It’s a problem that will only continue to grow in our culture, as our population ages. By the year 2000, 13 percent of Americans will be 65 or older, with the greatest increase in the over-75 group, which is more in need of physical and financial care. One-half of women over 65 have lost their spouses, and two-thirds of those over 75. Four times as many widows are alive as widowers.

There are numerous passages in the Bible dealing with widows. God has a special concern for them, along with orphans and others in difficult circumstances. Many passages lay down laws to protect widows. God is described as their protector and judge: “A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows is God in His holy habitation” (Ps. 68:5). “The Lord protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow” (Ps. 146:9). “Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow” (Deut. 27:19). “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27).

It’s significant that Paul, learned theologian and visionary apostle, was concerned about the care given to widows in the local church. In these verses to Timothy, he gives some wise, practical counsel, telling us that …

The church should wisely care for the widows in her midst.

Our society views the elderly as being a bother to our pursuit of personal pleasure. We’re so utilitarian that we discard people who no longer can function in a contributing way. But the Bible says that it pleases God when children and grandchildren practice piety by making some return to their parents (5:4). It would be judgmentally wrong to say that every family must take elderly parents into their homes. There are situations where that is not a viable option. But even if an elderly parent must be put in a nursing facility, the children should not abandon them. Even if their minds no longer function properly, they still deserve our loving care and respect.

In a Newsweek “My Turn” article (9/10/79), Milton Gwirtzman noted, “Although Shanghai is one of the five largest cities in the world, it has just one home for the aged. Older people in China don’t need Golden Age clubs or retirement communities. They have the most important life-support system of all: active, dignified work in an atmosphere of close family life and community respect.” Maybe American Christians can learn from the Chinese what the Bible affirms!

The film series, “Whatever Happened to the Human Race,” has a graphic scene depicting the way our culture neglects and abandons our old so that we can pursue our own interests. An elderly lady is wheeled down a white corridor by her children and grandchildren. They kiss her on the forehead and assure her that she will be all right. They leave and a nurse wheels the confused old woman into a darkened room where a TV set is blaring with the obnoxious voice of a game show host. She is abandoned by her family to live out her final days in front of the TV set! It almost makes euthanasia seem like an option! At least it’s quicker! But God’s way is not abandoning or killing the elderly; it is honoring and caring for them.

Although they may not have the energy of the young, the elderly have more time and the wisdom of a lifetime of walking with Christ. They can be involved in a ministry of prayer (v. 5) and good deeds (v. 10). This can be about as broad as the person wants to make it. They can offer spiritual and practical counsel to younger families. They can serve on church committees. They can visit shut-ins or those in hospitals and nursing homes. They can call on church visitors. They can help in church office work. They can help Sunday School teachers in preparing materials or in managing their classes. They can assist in child evangelism ministries or by calling on the homes of Sunday School youngsters. They can open their homes in hospitality, help out with church socials, volunteer to babysit an evening for a younger couple, correspond with missionaries, help mission organizations, collect clothing for the needy, help a shut-in clean house, or use their individual skills in various ways. You name it! There are many opportunities available to the godly older person who wants to serve Christ. Again, I would emphasize that we must deliberately reject the world’s thinking about self-centered retirement living. As long as God gives us life and strength, we should live to serve Him.

Steven J Cole



Read 1 Timothy 5:1-16.  
1]  Agree/disagree: The many convalescent homes in America reflect our lack of concern for the aged.  
2]  Why do you think that more elderly people are not involved in actively ministering in the church?


Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul – Sovereign Grace Music

Posted on: August 14, 2021 - 11:56AM

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