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“Loving Our Family” (1 Timothy 5:1-16)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

In April 1979, Sister Sledge released the hit single “We are Family.” The song celebrated sisters who were close together as a family.

Well, in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are family. Here at First Baptist Church Bartow, we are family. We exist, among other reasons, to “Love the Church,” which means loving one another as family.

Today, as we continue our study in 1 and 2 Timothy, we will learn about “Loving Our Family.”

Before we journey into this passage, join me in prayer, as we seek to hear from the Lord.


As we explore this passage, remember that Paul has just finished telling Timothy not to let anyone despise his youth; rather he is to set an example for others.

Now, Paul transitions into telling Timothy (and, by implication, others) how he should treat other members of his church family.

Let’s look at the passage together and then see what God teaches us. Look at 1 Timothy 5:1-16:

1 Don’t rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters with all purity.

3 Support widows who are genuinely in need. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn to practice godliness toward their own family first and to repay their parents, for this pleases God. 5 The widow who is truly in need and left all alone has put her hope in God and continues night and day in her petitions and prayers; 6 however, she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. 7 Command this also, so that they will be above reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own family, especially for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

9 No widow is to be enrolled on the list for support unless she is at least sixty years old, has been the wife of one husband, 10 and is well known for good works—that is, if she has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when they are drawn away from Christ by desire, they want to marry 12 and will therefore receive condemnation because they have renounced their original pledge. 13 At the same time, they also learn to be idle, going from house to house; they are not only idle, but are also gossips and busybodies, saying things they shouldn’t say. 14 Therefore, I want younger women to marry, have children, manage their households, and give the adversary no opportunity to accuse us. 15 For some have already turned away to follow Satan. 16 If any believing woman has widows in her family, let her help them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it can help widows in genuine need.

Ok, let’s look now at three specific ways that we should treat each other as a church family.

First, . . .

‌I. We should honor one another.

Paul tells Timothy specifically how to speak to different groups of people in the church. Remember, although Paul is speaking directly to Timothy regarding the church in Ephesus, these principles are applicable to us as well.

Here are four groups Paul speaks about:

Regarding older men, Paul says not to rebuke them but to exhort them as fathers.

Regarding younger men, Paul says to treat them as brothers.

Regarding older women, Paul says to treat them as mothers.

Regarding younger women, Paul says to treat them as sisters and with purity.

Going back to older men, I must admit that I’ve failed at this before.

You see, as a young pastor, I often have excitement for what the church could be, and I get angry when people bring sinfulness or foolishness into the church, and it makes me angry no matter what age the person is. However, I ought to be careful not to rebuke them harshly. I ought to be self-controlled, and treat older men as I would my father.

Paul says to exhort older men. To exhort means to strongly encourage. Did you hear that? Encourage, not discourage. So, I, and all of us, should seek to encourage older men when they are out of line, and lovingly urge them to seek Jesus and the good of the church.

With younger men, we can be a bit more direct with them, as we would with our brother, but we still do so with love.

I might call my brother a knucklehead, whereas I wouldn’t speak that way to my father or my grandfather. However, I still love my brother, and I treat him with love, whether it’s my actual brother or my brother in Christ.

Older women, we treat as we would our mothers.

You better believe that I respect and honor my mother. Otherwise, she might call me a knucklehead.

If my mom was going the wrong direction on something, I would humbly and lovingly seek to redirect her. I wouldn’t be harsh or humiliating toward her. So also, it should be that way with older women in the church.

Finally, with younger women, we are to treat them like sisters.

Specifically for pastors, we are to care for younger women and love them appropriately, with purity, as we would a sister.

Here’s the main point of verses 1 and 2: we’re family in the Lord, and we ought to treat each other with kindness, gentleness, and love.

Next, as a church family, . . .

‌II. We should care for one another

Paul spends a good time in this passage speaking about taking care of widows.

You see, in biblical times, widows were particularly vulnerable, especially if they didn’t have a father or son to look after them.

Paul points out that the church should be there to take care of those widows who are genuinely in need. After all, the church is a family.

Church, First Baptist Church Bartow is a family. We have some crazy family members, but we are a family nonetheless.

Paul is speaking here specifically about widows, but the principle applies to anyone who is in need in our church family.

Anyone who is genuinely in need should receive care from their church.

Paul says very straightforwardly in verse 3, “Support widows who are genuinely in need.”

James says in his letter, in James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

Church, if we want to be a genuine church, if you want to have pure and undefiled religion, take care of those in our church family who are in need.

Finally, Paul teaches that . . .

‌III. We should not take advantage of one another.

Paul mentions in a few different ways how the church should be careful to focus their efforts on helping those who are genuinely in need. He doesn’t want Timothy or the church in Ephesus to focus on those widows who don’t really need help.

Therefore, we must be careful not to become those who take advantage of the church and distract from those who are genuinely in need.

So, Paul spends a good amount of time focusing on two groups who may be in danger of taking advantage of the church: young widows and family members of widows. Let’s see what he says.

First, notice in verses 9-11 that Paul makes a very detailed list of qualifications for which widows should receive support.

We are not to take this list as exact prescriptions for us today. After all, foot-washing is not as necessary today, 60 years old is not as old as it once was, and some women don’t have any children.

However, this idea of putting thought into who the church will help and who the church will not help is a biblical idea, as we see in these verses.

Also, in verses 11-15, Paul says not to treat younger widows the same as older widows.

Paul’s discussion of younger widows centers on the idea that some would make a pledge of singleness to Jesus, but then go back on it when they find a strapping young man that shows interest in them.

Paul says rather than go through all that swing of commitments, they should try to remarry and live a godly married life.

By the way, we know from elsewhere in the Bible that Paul doesn’t believe every person has to be married. Rather, he says most should be married, but he makes exceptions for those who are called to a special life of godly singleness.

So, generally speaking, Paul would encourage younger widows to remarry, rather than try and live off of the generosity of the church.

We must also note here that Paul offers some warnings for those who reject his instructions.

Paul warns about the widow who is self-indulgent and uses the church to meet their selfish need. Paul says in verse 6, “she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.”

Of course, Paul is speaking about this type of woman being spiritually dead.

The church can provide for this person’s physical needs, but if they are mooching off of the church, they have a bigger problem, they are dead spiritually.

Then, Paul says in verse 4, “But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn to practice godliness toward their own family first and to repay their parents, for this pleases God.”

So families should take care of their family members who are need, rather than expecting the church to take care of them. This is, first and foremost, their responsibility.

Similarly, Paul says in verse 16: “If any believing woman has widows in her family, let her help them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it can help widows in genuine need.”

Sometimes families are critical of the church for not helping their loved ones. First of all, we try to help any member of our church who is in need. Second, the apostle Paul says the family themselves should be the ones doing the heavy lifting when it comes to taking care of their loved ones in need.

Some women (and men also at times) don’t have families who take care of them; these are the ones who are truly in need, and the ones the church should be helping.

Paul offers a warning concerning this as well, in verse 7. He says, “if anyone does not provide for his own family, especially for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

You see, even non-Christians know that you should take care of your own family.

If a Christian refuses to take care of their own earthy family members, Paul says they have essentially denied the faith.

Finally, Paul gives a warning about women becoming idle with their singleness.

Paul says in verse 13 that certain women “ . . . learn to be idle, going from house to house; they are not only idle, but are also gossips and busybodies, saying things they shouldn’t say.”

Now, to be clear, single women are not the only gossipers and busybodies in the church. Married women can also gossip, as can men (both single and married).

However, Paul is concerned about some of these young widows who potentially find themselves with nothing better to do with their time than to sin.

In fact, Paul warns in verse 15, “For some have already turned away to follow Satan.”

Church, may we never find ourselves in such a state that we have nothing better to do with our time than to sin.

If you have a problem with gossip or some other sin, it may be because you have too much time on your hands. Get yourself busy with godliness, so that you don’t become busy with gossip and sin. Get yourself busy with prayer, Bible study, evangelism, Bible memorization, fasting, Christian service, hospitality, generosity, forgiveness, and more. Get yourself busy with the things of God and forget about the things of this world!

One final word from your pastor here to our ladies.

Paul has a lot to say here about women. He’s concerned that women not go the way of the world or the way of evil. Paul knows that some women have already forsaken Jesus and have gone the way of the world.

Ladies, don’t go the way of the world; go the way of Jesus! Don’t seek the trends of the world, the acceptance of the world, the beauty of the world, or the approval of the world. You have all that you need in Jesus. You are already accepted because of the work of Jesus. You are far more beautiful than anything this world has to offer because of the beautiful work of Jesus! Seek Jesus, and find all that you need in Him!

In summary, Paul is pointing out that we should not take advantage of the church. We should not mooch off the church, or think the church owes us something. Rather, we are to sacrificially and joyfully love one another as a family.

Let this bottom line summarize this passage:

‌Bottom line: The church should love and care for their own.

We are a family. May we behave as a family, who truly loves God and loves one another.

Challenge yourself this week in the following ways:

‌Weekly Challenge #1 – Consider how you care for your earthly family.

Paul was pretty emphatic about caring for our own families. So, consider how well you are caring for the family that God gave you on this earth.

Pray about that and think about that this week.

‌Weekly Challenge #2 – Consider how you care for your church family.

How well do you love on your church family and take care of those in need?

How well are we doing as a church?

Pray about that and think about that this week.

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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