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. (1 Timothy 5:9-10)
A Godly Example Of A Woman
The early church was a benevolent group of caring and nurturing saints. In the development of the church, helping the needy was a great work of supplying whatever needs was necessary to care for those within the body of Christ. Houses and lands were sold to make provisions. Paul exhorts Timothy to show piety towards the older men and women admonishing the church to look out after widows and orphans and those in need. This care was regulated by certain requirements. A family should do all they could do before the church took the saint into their number caring for their needs. The work of the church is taking into their numbers the care and benevolent administration of those who are in need.
What is remarkable about the instructions of accepting a widow into the number is the kind of person she is described as portraying. The age is not what is notable (anyone can live sixty years) but the kind of woman she has become. If there is a pattern for women to strive for in showing the light of Christ in their life, what the Holy Spirit describes in this text is something every woman should strive to be. She is a faithful wife. Being the wife of one man suggests she has faithfully carried out her role in having a marriage that is in harmony with God’s will. Jesus answered His critics who sought to trap Him about divorce that God has joined man together in the union of marriage for life. The widow who has been an example of purity in her marriage is given honor for her willingness to live as God designed the home. She is a woman of integrity and truth.
As a wife, she has spent her life in doing for others. Being well reported for good works shows her life has been a diligent purpose of serving others. She has reached the age of sixty years but her life as a young woman growing into maturity as a wife and woman is remembered as one working hard for the church helping others in need, showing hospitality, kindness and love for others. Her heart is filled with compassion and her hands are diligent in the work of benevolence. Dorcas was an early Christian who died leaving a legacy of her kindness to others. When Peter came to raise her from the dead, many saints spoke of all she did when she was alive. Godly women are not so concerned for themselves as much as their concern for others.
The widow brought into the number has brought up children. Her example as a mother is rooted in the teachings of God leading her children in the paths of righteousness. Her love for others begins at home. The family is blessed because of her example. She has tirelessly worked to care for others allowing those who need a place of rest and comfort. Her table is always prepared to feed those in need or provide lodging. Her home was a place of clean feet; the early saints knew when they visited her home she provided kindness to them in every way. If someone was sick she would take food to them. When a family was filled with sorrow and grief, she was there to attend to their needs. The example of this woman was simply doing everything she could to help others and fill the needs of those afflicted.
Paul told Timothy to refuse the younger widows because they are concerned more for themselves than others. They have not followed the model of the godly woman who has shown her love for God by her good works. A godly example of a woman can be seen in the description of the widow taken into the number of the church. These qualities do not happen overnight. When a woman is more focused on herself than others, she is not giving God the glory. Christian women serve others. The home is a place of respite, benevolence, care and love. If circumstances present themselves where the woman has no one to care for her, she can be taken into the work of the church and cared for because of her diligent life of service to Jesus Christ. Her life is a wonderful model all women should strive to follow.
A judicious, diligent, and pious wife is the soul of a great household; she introduces order there for temporal welfare and future salvation. (Francois Fenelon, Education of Girls, 1688)