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How should the church take care of widows?

Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But 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 and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:3-15
            Paul spoke to Timothy, the pastor of Ephesus, and was very clear about how to handle widows.  Remember, the first deacon position was created in Acts to specifically take care of widows, so they’ve always had a special place in God’s heart.
            However, widows weren’t just taken care of because they had no husband.  They had to earn the church’s favor to receive the need.  Imagine a welfare system based on merit.
            In I Timothy 5, Paul lays out the rules for taking care of widows.
1.      They had to REALLY be in need (verse 3), like desperate.  Paul didn’t want resources taken away for those who had plenty when others had little.
2.      The first priority of care landed on the children and grandchildren, not the church (verse 4).
3.      The widow loved God, trusted Him, prayed to Him regularly (verse 5).
4.      Any widow who lived for her own pleasure was denied (verse 6).
5.      The widow had to be over sixty years old (verse 9).
6.      The widow had to have been faithful to her husband and known by her good deeds – the way she brought up her children, showed them hospitality, washed the feet of others (verses 9-10)
7.      Younger widows did not get assistance because they had an inclination to get married later.  Paul heard of stories of young widows who were lazy and busybodies, not faithful, loving, hard-working widows like Ruth from the Old Testament.  Like Ruth, Paul encouraged them to find a husband and marry (verses 11-15).