What can the church do for widows?


I am interested in knowing what can the church do for the widows? There is a lady who is a widow and a member of the Lord's church.  She has five grown children. Can the church pay for her husband's funeral out of the treasury? What if all members quit paying their life insurance and demand the same treatment?


"Honor widows who are really widows. But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. And these things command, that they may be blameless. But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work. But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some have already turned aside after Satan. If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows" (I Timothy 5:3-16)

The church steps in to help members who are true widows, that is those who have no surviving family to care for them. In addition, Paul states that the church's obligations only extend to elderly widows (by implication, those who are unable to support themselves) who have been exemplary members. The woman you asked about, having five grown children, is not qualified to receive aid from the church.

The church is not a social welfare organization. The family's obligation comes first. The church steps in when there is no family and the widow has shown herself to be a faithful member. The latter qualification would eliminate "conversions" just for financial aid.

What about widows who don't meet the qualifications Paul laid out and who don't have a family to depend upon? This then becomes an obligation of the widow's fellow Christians. "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27).


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