Taking Care of Widows – I Timothy 5:3-8

Sermon notes – Pastor Milton Vincent – Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church
January 17, 2010

For more information or to download sermons, please visit Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church website at www.cornerstonebible.org.

A note from Terrie: These are my notes taken during our church service on Sunday mornings. I will do my best to represent each sermon faithfully and post by Wednesday evening. Please keep in mind that these notes are just that, notes, and are a condensed version of the sermon. My prayer is that not only will these posts help me to think about God’s Word and how to apply it to my life, but that each post will encourage others to do the same.

Five things God would want from a church regarding widows:

1.  He would want the church to teach on widows (verse 7).
In times past, widows were especially vulnerable. Because of that, God pays special attention to widows and warns that He will judge those who afflict them. (See: Deut. 14:28,29; 24:19; Ps. 146:9; 68:5.)

2.  He would want the church to know the difference between a “widow” and a “widow indeed”.
There is a broad category, “widows”, and a smaller sub-set who are “widows indeed” (verse 3).
A “widow indeed” is someone who:

  1. has lost her husband
  2. is truly destitute (that is, has no children or grand-children of her own, verse 4)
  3. has been left alone (verse 5)
  4. is a Christian (hopes in God, verse 5)
  5. is Godly (verse 5; 2:1)

At that time, it could be that the church was providing care for widows who were not saved or even widows who were prostitutes. These women were taking advantage of God’s people and were not to be considered “widows indeed” (verse 6).

3.  He would want the church to discern which of these categories each widow fits into.

4.  He would want the church to assume responsibility for taking care of widows who are “widows indeed”.
The church is to respect, care for, provide assistance to, and take on the burden and responsibility of caring for “widows indeed”.
Verse 3 reads: “Honor widows who are really widows.” The word, honor, is in the present tense. This would mean continuously providing ongoing care for them. Of course, we are to take care of all widows, generally speaking, but ongoing care is reserved for “widows indeed”.

5.  He would want the church to instruct the members to take care of the widows in their own families (verse 4).
How could a church correctly frame this admonition to take care of the “widows indeed” (or, even assist other family members who might be unable to care for themselves)?

Six Motivations:

A.  To do so is Godliness! Taking the responsibility to care for those who are unable to care for themselves is what Godliness looks like (verse 4). This might entail helping with decision-making, physical needs, spiritual needs, financial help, or shepherding a loved one through the dieing process.

B. It’s a payback! It’s an opportunity to repay your parents for everything they have done for you (verse 4). Think of the daily provision your parents have given you day after day, year after year, in all areas of life. It’s your time to return a portion of their love and sacrifice back to them. A note to the young people: Start now! Practice love, gratitude and service towards your parents.

C.  It’s worship! According to verse 4, caring for your parents when they are unable to care for themselves is “good and acceptable before God.” This is the language of worship, and it is an act of sacrificial worship before God. When you invest yourself in others, your service is acceptable, or warmly received, or gladly welcomed by God. Doing so is not just a horizontal, but a vertical transaction as well. For example, in Philippians 4:17-18, Paul calls the offering he receives from his brothers and sisters not only a blessing to him, but “a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.” 

D.  It is a good testimony! The word “they” in verse 7 refers to the children or grandchildren mentioned in verse 4. Obeying God in this matter is part of being above reproach.

E.  To not do this is to deny the Gospel! To refuse to care for “your own” is to deny “the faith” (verse 8). The words, “the faith”, are a synonym for the Gospel. And what does this have to do with the Gospel? A central part of the Gospel is that Jesus fulfilled the law. This includes the fifth commandment, to honor your mother and father. As He was growing up, Jesus perfectly obeyed this commandment. Jesus obeyed His Father when He gave Himself up to be crucified for our sins. Even in the agony of His final hour, Jesus speaks to his mother from the cross and shows love and honor towards her:

When Jesus therefore saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. -John 19:26-27

F.  To not provide care makes you worse than non-Christians! Even non-believers and pagans cared for their parents (verse 8). In fact, under Greek law, anyone who failed to do so had their civil rights revoked.

In conclusion, consider caring for family members who cannot care for themselves as an opportunity to obey God and to fulfill the claim Christ has put on our lives through the Gospel.


About Terrie van Baarsel

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