Wednesday, August 23, 2023
But if [a spiritual widow] has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God.
But those who won't care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.
We live in a time when families can live widely separated by great distances. Even when we live fairly close geographically, we often choose texting or phone calling over physical time together. This cultural distancing from each other and the disagreements and wounds that come with family conflicts make caring for our older family members less of a priority. The dark shadow of isolation that many older adults felt during the COVID crises of 2020-2022 never ended for many older adults. Add in the cultural expectation in many countries that older adults need to provide for their own needs and pay for their own care in professional retirement and aging centers, and Paul's instructions to Timothy can feel harsh and overly demanding.
The Scriptures, however, are emphatic. They stress our responsibility — family members as well as community members — to care for our widows.  Paul's words to Timothy on caring for widows through our families and our churches  emphasize clear principles we must use in our lives. These instructions correspond beautifully to the principles we see in the book of Ruth.  Paul then gives us the two extremes to our response to the widows among us. When we follow God's demands and Paul's guidance as we care for our widows, our faithfulness "pleases God." When we don't, God views us as people who "have denied the true faith" and "are worse than unbelievers."
God doesn't want us to view the book of Ruth  as a sweet story of loyalty from long ago and far away, a sort of moral fairy tale to entertain us and move our emotions. He wants us to see that faithfulness to "widows who are really in need"  is essential to godliness and faithfulness to the heart of God! 
Father, forgive us for our neglect of our widows in need and stir us with the compassion of Your Son, the Christ, so we will serve, love, and comfort our widows and widowers in their loss and time of need. O, Holy Spirit, as You produce the holy fruit of God in us and conform us to Jesus,* please stir our hearts with compassion. We as that you inspire us to act tenderly toward widows and widowers. We want to reflect the heart of our Father in heaven more completely.^ We pray this in the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.
'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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