Good morning and welcome to Thursday’s podcast. Monday we looked at ensuring that Jesus is the focus of our lives, Tuesday we heard some general advice to Timothy and yesterday we heard Paul’s encouragement to us to not neglect God’s unique gift to us but diligently put it into practice. Today we hear Paul’s challenge to the church to not separate loving God from loving our neighbour.
We see this worked out in 1 Timothy 5:1-8, let’s read v4
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. [1 Timothy 5:4]
I want to pick up on the phrase, ‘Put their religion into practice by caring for’ – It is an attempt to bring out the meaning of the Greek “To be devout towards…” Other translations say ‘practice godliness toward’ The Greek word having the same root as ‘godliness’ found in chapter 4:7-8. Godliness… devout… it is about showing due reverence and respect… to our God it is worship… loving and serving him… to our family… it is the same, reverence, respect, love and service. Love God and Love your Neighbour… they go together and shouldn’t be separated. Here are a couple of examples to illustrate.
There once was a man who loved the Bible. He really loved the Bible… and prayer. He couldn’t get enough. He would study the scriptures, he would listen to all the great preachers. He was very careful to watch what he believed, correct doctrine was extremely important to him. He would lift his hands in prayer and passionately sing his heart out in worship. He was often first to arrive for church and last to leave.
But as a poor student he had been given a raw deal. His student house was… well… dysfunctional. In his first student house the relationships dissolved to such a point that most of the household wasn’t speaking to one another anymore. Eventually he escaped this terrible place and found a new house with new people… time passed and very soon this new house fell into the same dysfunction as the first; in fact, it was worse than the one he had left…
But he did so love his Bible and prayer and worship.
One day I asked him about whether he had any non-Christian friends. He told me that he didn’t have any of those, but he did ask if there would be any opportunity to to teach the Bible sometime!?
On another occasion I sent a group of young people out to pray and to seek God, “What was he saying to them?” They went out to wander the streets of Crookes. On their way out they passed the very lovely Malc Drew, our Estates manager. A short while later I bumped into Malc, and he wasn’t a very happy man, an unusual state for Malc. He was on his own, busy emptying the church van of a whole lot of stock. He was a little put out that a dozen able-bodied young men and women had just walked past him and his van full of stuff. Not one of them had stopped… not one of them had offered to lend him a hand. I explained that I had sent them out to pray and see what God might be saying to them… I think Malc may have mumbled something along the lines of them being… so heavenly minded to be no earthly good! God spoke to me powerfully that day through our Estates team manager!
Jesus told the story of a man beaten and robbed and left for dead on the road to Jericho. A priest and a Levite both passed by… two very religious men… very DEVOUT… they had no time for the wounded man… it was only the Samaritan that stopped… The priest and Levite would have serious questions about the Samaritan’s devotion… his thinking about God was a little suspect, his doctrine was suspect… and yet here he was being devout towards this stranger.
Let’s today be mindful to put our religion into practice. Let’s take every opportunity to be devout towards our family members, our work colleagues… our fellow human beings. Let’s remember that to show our love to God we show that same love to our neighbour. Whatever you did for the least of these, Jesus said, you did for me.
Father, I want to thank you for the reminder today that our religion is entirely practical. That our ‘spiritual life’ is mirrored by our ‘family life’, that our love for others is a measure of our love for you. Let our worship spill out to the next person I see, and the next person, and the next person…. Fill my heart with love and let that love touch other lives today. Amen.
READING: 1 Timothy 5:1-8
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
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.