Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 1 Timothy 5:3 (NIV)
There will be genuine need in the church, and our job is to discern where it is. It’s always right to ask these kinds of questions: What provision has God already made? What can this person do for himself or herself? What means are already available?
Paul says that the church must give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need (5:3), and the church should help them (5:16). How do we know who to help and who to support?
This is a real question, not just for pastors, but for some of us. How do you know when to help and when to stand back, especially when money is involved? The Bible is a wonderfully practical book and right here Paul shows us the path of wisdom by giving us two principles.
The first principle is: God’s first provision is through the family. Three times, Paul makes it clear that God’s first provision for a person in need is through the family:
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. (5:4)
If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need. (5:16)
If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (5:8)
Those who are not yet Christians care for their own. How much more should we believers care for our own families?
Paul says that when you care for family members, especially parents and grandparents, you are repaying what they’ve given to you. And he says, “This is pleasing to God” (5:4).
Do you have family members in need? If so, have you tried to discern where the genuine needs might be?