1 Timothy 5:1-22; Jeremiah 1-2; Psalm 119:145-176
At one time people who moved to a new community were advised to join a church because you could make good, important connections there. It would look good on your unofficial resume. That has changed, and this advice is no longer automatically given. When you hear about the decline in church membership and attendance, this might be one of the reasons. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, either.
Early Christians did not have this luxury. Often, if their commitment to Jesus became known, they would lose jobs. They would be persecuted at work and have to leave their work. People would stop patronizing their shops and places of business. The church set up a system of caring for believers who couldn’t work. Paul placed a provision on that system that reminded people of their obligations: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1Timothy 5:8)
This statement was made in the midst of caring for widows which was a special concern of the church. Still it applies in a more general sense as well. We must take care of family first. Why should we expect others to care for our family when we won’t do it? It’s far too easy to expect people to get help from others these days and we forget our obligations to care for family. While there are limits to what we can do, while we have those who run off and refuse to be a part of the family, we are still called to care for family first.
It’s called responsibility. We are our brother’s keeper. Do you remember that the one who asked the question seeking to deny that responsibility had just killed his brother? There are levels of care. First, immediate family needs to provide care. When that is not enough, the church needs to help. (In today’s world, crowd funding is an option for special times.) If that doesn’t provide enough help, then and only then should government help be considered. Take care of the family!
Lord God, how easy it is to get caught up in our desires and wishes and not realize the needs of family members. Remind me to care for my family and find ways to take care of them.