Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. — 1 Timothy 5:3-8
Based on how Paul states this, there seem to have been some women who were "fake widows" unfairly leveraging the church's resources. So Paul wants Timothy to vet this issue. And the litmus test is two-fold. First, she needs to be a woman with no husband who has no family support. Second, she demonstrates dependence on God.
This principle is one of those things that always gets me. It's the tension between my generosity and those who receive my generosity. And Paul suggests that the church needs to use discernment with two simple guidelines. One is a hard guideline, and the second is a soft guideline. The hard guideline determines the woman's actual need, and the soft guideline determines the heart of the woman with the need.
I think these are excellent guidelines to put into practice. One guideline elicits responsibility where there could be an opportunity for abuse. The other guideline requires us to assess the heart of the recipient. But the only way to learn this is to practice it. So today, do that. Be generous. Support someone today. Not me. Someone else. But right before you do, ask these two questions:
Does this person have a real need?
Does this person demonstrate a dependence on God in this need?
Try it and let me know what you think.
ASK THIS: Who is a person who needs your financial support?
DO THIS: Answer the two questions and support them if appropriate.
PRAY THIS: God, make me aware of the needs in the body of Christ.
PLAY THIS: I Need You.
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