One of the first problems the church faced was a problem that the church is still facing today. There was, and will always be people in and around the church that demand attention. In this chapter Paul instructs Timothy how to deal with certain needs among certain people.
Those being neglected
The first thing that Paul writes to Timothy about is the importance of not showing favoritism among the members of the church. Timothy was a young man so it would be very easy for him to ignore the older members of the congregation. Timothy was to treat the older members as a mother or a father and the younger members as brothers and sisters.
Those in need
Next, Paul mentions that there may be some in the church that require special attention. In this chapter the focus is on widows and how they are to be cared for. This was a popular topic in the first church. In fact the first deacons were called in the book of Acts because a certain group in the church did not feel that their widows were not being cared for as well as another group. This may seem like a small thing, but when you consider that in this day they did not have social security, Medicare or retirement homes, you can see how this could be a problem.
I understand that the church today does not have to support widows like the early church did, but the fact remain, the church must be careful about who they do help. Christian people are to be tenderhearted, but there are a lot of people with their hands out. The church must be careful not to waste its resources on someone who really does not need it.
In these verses Paul will list several requirements that a person must meet before they are helped by the church. I will mention a few of them.
Before a church helps someone they must be desolate or without family support, according to verse 4 & 5. If a person has relatives that are able to help them (children or grandchildren, which is translated nephews) then they should look to them first. I believe this has always been God’s method. We are to care for those that once cared for us. One of the cruelest things a person can do is to abandon a loved one in their time of need. Children will place their mother or father in a home and leave them to die without as much as a visit. I am not saying that nursing or retirement homes are a bad thing, sometimes they are necessary. I am, however, against children and grandchildren abandoning their loved one in their last days. According to verse 8 if you are not willing to care for a relative then you are worse than an infidel.
Paul mentions that a church should consider a person’s track record before they receive help. If a person has helped others, according to verse 10, then they should receive help in their time of need. Some people will accept help, but are not willing to help others. This should be considered.
Those not behaving
In this last part of the chapter Paul deals with the elders in the church. These principles could apply to the role of pastor but I feel like the primary thought goes much further than that. The pastor, elders, deacons and other church officers should work together in harmony. It is a terrible thing when pastor acts like a dictator and tries to rule over the church. It is equally as terrible when a deacon, member or group think that they rule the church.
Church discipline is never good but sometimes it is necessary. Unfortunately discipline in the church is either done in one of two ways. Some don’t discipline at all and it seems like the others act like police officers. Church discipline is discussed several times in the bible and there is a certain order in which it is to be done.
It is sad when church member has to be disciplined but it is even sadder when that person is a leader in the church. Let me first point out the purpose of discipline is not for revenge but for restoration. Our desire should be to save the person not to drive them away.
Paul gives some words of caution about discipline to Timothy to close this chapter. First make sure you have your facts straight. Are their witnesses, is the accuser willing to testify to what they are saying before others. Next he tells him to make sure nothing is done in secret. Everything should be done out in the open. Thirdly Paul tells him to obey God’s word no matter what his personal feelings are. A pastor or church staff must not work with prejudice. Each member of the church is to be handled the same.
Let us be faithful in every aspect of the Christian life. Sure it is important to attend service, give in the offering, tell others about Christ and be a good moral example to the community. It is equally important to care for our loved ones in their time of need, to be a good example to our family and our church. These are the things no one sees so we tend to overlook them. In order to be a well rounded Christian and a well rounded church we must pay attention to the “small things.”