FOCUS: Jesus is the King
FOCUS: Godliness With Contentment
FOCUS: Honoring Authority
FOCUS: Values for the Family of God
FOCUS: Protecting the Church
FOCUS: The Mission and Message of the Church
FOCUS: Church Leadership
Focus: Men and Women in the Local Church
Focus: Sinners and Saints Like Us
Focus: Sound Doctrine
How are we supposed to live together in the household of God? In week 8 of our series, FOCUS: A Study in 1 Timothy, John Elmore teaches through 1 Timothy 5:1-16, showing us that respect, provision, and faithfulness are to be God’s family values.
So far in 1 Timothy, we’ve learned that false teachers have always been in the church and that doctrine and discernment keep us from being deluded by them. We learned that God’s mercy and grace should change our vision and response to what’s happening in the world around us and that God calls his church to be a people who prioritize prayer. Next, we heard about God’s heart to unleash women in the church and learned about the character church leadership should possess. We learned about being a family that rallies around the gospel, and lastly, the importance of protecting the church.
Hey, everybody. Good morning, Watermark Church. My name is John Elmore. I serve as the director of re:generation here at the Dallas Campus. Great to be with you all every time and also with those of you joining online or from another campus or even in the overflow rooms. I'm thankful to be together this morning in the house of God.
I have something to show you. Did everybody have a good Thanksgiving here in the room? Yeah, that was like a third of people. When there's a global pandemic going on, it's hard to have a good Thanksgiving. You can't travel. There are people with preexisting conditions. There's the elderly, and you got exposed at the office because of that person who wasn't conscientious, and now you're stuck at home. It's a difficult time.
In that difficult time of Thanksgiving, two-thirds of people were like, "No, actually, it was not a great Thanksgiving. It was really hard. Couldn't travel. Stuck at home. Wasn't with family or loved ones or friends I would have usually been with." It makes you realize the importance of family and loved ones. It becomes really clear in their absence. Because of the importance of family, two years ago, on Mother's Day, I created this little beauty for family values.
This was Elmore family promises. I made it for Laura, and it's like, "We will always be married, loving, forgiving, well fed and clothed…" I'm trying to fight entitlement here. I'm like, "Hey, kids, you'll have food and something to wear. Anything other than that is gravy. So thank you. You're welcome." And "Supportive, worshiping Jesus." They were Elmore family values. I wanted this to be in front of us, because family is important, and these things don't happen by accident. These values needed to be there in front of us.
Now, where do you think this might hang in our house? Are you thinking entryway, so every time we come through the door it's right there? Above the mantel? Maybe in the kitchen? The kitchen is the heart of the home where we're all going to sit and every meal be reminded of these values. No, no, no. Here's where this little beauty hangs: in the garage behind the ice cream maker that we've used once.
My wife saw this, and she said, "That's not going to hang in our house." I was like, "Oh, really? I don't think 'cold, dead heart' is a family value. Are you serious right now?" She was like, "It's Sharpie on burlap, and that's not a family value." I said, "Well, can I hang it in the garage?" She's like, "I guess." I was like, "You realize I'm going to tell that to the whole congregation. I'm going to throw you under the bus in front of everybody." She's like, "It's Sharpie on burlap. I don't care." I married a truth-teller, which is amazing.
Those family values that got put in the garage that, frankly, nobody sees anymore… They're out of sight. What I think happens often with us, too, is biblical family values, the family values God has given us… Sometimes those get put out of sight as well. God did write family values for the household of God. He wrote them in his Word. He has given them to us, but often they fall out of sight.
So, today, we're going to bring them back to the foreground. We're going to hang them front and center and walk through many of them, because it's so important. Lest you check out, here's one of the family values. He says if you don't uphold this singular family value, you have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever.
Now that's really strong language, which might lead you to think, "Okay. Family value. Maybe that's like rejecting the deity of Christ or not upholding the inerrancy of Scripture. Maybe that's like denying the resurrection. I mean, that's strong that if you don't uphold this family value you've denied the faith and you're worse than an unbeliever."
Those things would qualify for that, but the one value this is written about, when God says, "This one? You deny the faith if you don't do that…" Do you know what it is? It's to financially provide for your immediate family; specifically, your aging mother if and when she becomes a widow. He says if you don't do that, you're worse than an unbeliever, which is really sobering.
So, there are many family values we're going to talk through as we continue the Focus series here in 1 Timothy. Talking about these family values is going to be important as we talk about the household of God under God the Father and how we live together and care for each other as brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers in the faith, living as a family together.
Before we talk about these family values, we have to establish who the family is. These family values I have… The kids down the street are not required to live according to these family values. These family values were not written for those children. Those children don't bear my name, they don't sleep in my house, they don't eat at my table, and they won't be a part of my inheritance. They're children, but they're not my children.
The reason I share that is before we talk about the family of God, I have to deconstruct this crap heresy that has crept into the church as a folk theology. It's something we say. I guarantee you I've said it in my lifetime. Here's what it is. All of the people of the world, all eight billion people…
Here's the phrase: "Well, we're all God's children. Everybody with a heartbeat, everybody born on this Earth, no matter what your background, what nation, what religion, who you claim as God…we are all God's children." Which is meant to be this feel-good unity thing, and it's simply not true. It's a heretical teaching. It is false doctrine. You will not find that in the Scripture.
What you will find is, yes, we are children. We're all children. We are children of wrath. We were born natural-born sinners. We were born spiritually dead in our sins and trespasses. You see, there's a doctrine in the Bible called the holiness of God, and in the holiness of God, he can't be among wickedness.
So, in our sin, we have been separated from God, and God will not entertain nor accept any false religion, false gospel, false trust in choosing a god of your own understanding or whoever you want it to be, but rather there is one true God. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through the Son." We are not all God's children. Quite oppositely, we are all children of wrath unless…
Because God sees us in that, in our separation from him because of our sin… Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of sin is death." Someone has to die because of sin. Because of our sin, it means spiritual death in this life and then physical and eternal death forever in the next in a real place called hell unless, rather than your death, you trust in God's provision of Jesus' death.
This is why God sent Jesus: because he knows we're children of wrath, and he sends Jesus as a rescue for us, as a ransom to draw us out, to adopt us into the family of God. He sees us in our separation and says, "There's no way they could work their way up to me by good works or no level of bad works that would keep them from me. It's only through the rescue of Jesus."
So he sends Jesus, his Son, God in flesh, fully man and fully God, who lived a sinless life that we could not live, and then died the death on the cross that we deserved, was buried and raised again, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life and has crossed over from death to life, and not only that, has been adopted into the family of God. It says in Ephesians 1 that through the blood of Christ we have been adopted by the Father and now indwelt by the Spirit.
We have become children of God only if we are in and under Christ. That's who is the family of God. I don't say that to exclude some and include others. I say that to implore you that if you're here today or listening and if Jesus is not your salvation, then God is not your Father and you are, in fact, dead in your sin and a child of wrath, but today and every day there is an open adoption where God says, "Come to me and I'll give you rest." The offer of Jesus is for every single person, all eight billion, no matter what your religion or background.
Anyone who confesses with their mouth Jesus is Lord and believes in their heart, their spirit, that God raised Christ from the dead will be saved. That is the gospel. That is the good news. That is how you are adopted into the family of God. As we talk about family values, that is essential, basic groundwork, foundational, transformational for all of us to understand. Before we can talk about how to live and care for each other in the family of God, to understand who is and who isn't.
Here in the holidays, in case you're like, "I get it. Gospel. Move on. Next point…" You're going to go home for Christmas or maybe they're going to come to you, and you're going to have children of wrath step into your home or you're going to go to others. Maybe it's your parents or your grandparents or your aunt and uncle or your cousin or that strange cousin who always shows up with the weird food who smells like mothballs, and they're going to be dead in their sin.
You have the good news, and it's Christmas. You can say, "Has anyone ever told you why we celebrate Christmas? Has anyone ever told you why it was important that Jesus was born though he always existed?" And you get to share the only good news this world has. What an incredible privilege. Now, as we jump into family values, I want to read the text. First Timothy 5:1-16:
"Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.
She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith.
Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows."
First Timothy only has six chapters. Here in chapter 5, the great majority of the passage is dedicated to widows. There's a refrain. So much of 1 Timothy is given to widows. Why is that? It's because God's heart is and has always been for the vulnerable. As you look throughout the Scriptures, what you're going to see is that God cares for the vulnerable, in particular the poor, the alien and stranger, the fatherless, and, yes, here that we're going to read today, the widow. His heart is for the widow.
Over 80 times in Scripture, God speaks to widows, to their pain and to their plight, and he holds them up, it seems very often, as living examples and parables, as pillars of faith, these widows completely dependent upon God. We have much, much to learn from them. Then the author and perfector of our faith… This is incredible, and it's not often taught. Jesus' last words, his last good deed before he died was for a widow.
His last words were, "I thirst. It is finished," but just prior to that, he's there on the cross moments before he breathes his last, and he looks down at his widowed mother Mary, and here's what he says from John 19. "When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved [John] standing nearby, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!'" Jesus wasn't talking about himself, because of the next words he says. "Then he said to [John] the disciple, 'Behold, your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."
This is incredible. Jesus' final good work… Of all of the miracles, all of the messages, all of the sermons, all the raising of the dead…the sick healed, the lame given life, the blind given sight…everything he did, his last good work he would do before death was to care for his widowed mother, to give charge of her to John. It says, "From that hour John took her into his home and cared for her."
What he does there is incredible. It shows the importance, the priority, and the intentionality of an eldest son caring for his birth mother. It says in verse 28, "After this [after that act, after entrusting the care of his widowed mother to John] , Jesus, knowing that all was now finished…" That was one remaining good work the Father had ordained the Son must fulfill. After this, knowing that all was finished, then "I thirst," according to the Scriptures. "It is finished." It's beautiful.
How amazing, how compassionate, that he cares not only for his widowed mother, that the Lord throughout Scripture cares for widows, and that if you are a widow, God cares for you immensely. His special attention and provision upon you in your pain and plight. I and we and God want you to know we're so sorry.
I've spoken to many men and women and widows as of late because of this passage and just with it being more on my mind and hearing the pain, the excruciating pain, the grief that you just can't understand. We are so sorry and want you to know that God loves you. He sees you. He has not forgotten you. In fact, his special attention and provision will be upon you as he is at your side. It says the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, and so does the God of all comfort. He will meet you in that, dear widow.
So, here's where we're going today as we talk about family values. The first we're going to talk about is respect for the family of God. Then we're going to talk about provision for the family, in particular aging parents, especially an aging mother who is now a widow. Then, finally, faithfulness of the widow. Those will be the three things. Let's begin.
1 . Respect for the family of God. This is from 1 Timothy 5:1-2. It begins and says this regarding older men: "Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father…" The word encourage there in the Greek is parakaleo, which is the same root word given to the Holy Spirit: Paraclete. The Holy Spirit is an encourager, a counselor, one who strengthens and builds up. Here, in verb form, parakaleo… That is how younger men are to speak to older men: to strengthen, encourage, to build up in their older age, never to rebuke harshly.
That is how we interact, younger men to older or younger women to older. There's a phrase in this day and age that says, "Respect is earned," especially in our divided nation. That's not a biblical premise, especially for older men. The Bible would say, contrary to that, "No. Respect is due." Respect is due simply by your years. Here in Leviticus 19:32 it says, "You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord ."
So, an application, just as simple as that, is when you see an older man, you stand up when they enter the room. You greet them. Say, "Sir." Then, as far as interacting with them, just as it says, encourage them, strengthen them, that parakaleo. You seek their wisdom. I'm always asking my grandfather-in-law for wisdom. I love that man, and he has great wisdom for me. I encourage him in that.
Jim Wimberley, my boss, who's going to turn 80 in December… I'm in his office multiple times a day to learn from him, glean from him, to process my thoughts. I don't go in and say, "This is what I'm thinking, Jim. This is what I'm going to do. Just wanted to give you a heads-up." I say, "Jim, what do you think?" Then we pray together, and I learn from him, that dear older man.
Now, younger men it says to treat as brothers. Brothers build up. They don't tear down. I'm fortunate to have an older brother, Matt. He's three years older than me. He lives here in Dallas. What Matt has done for me is exemplary as far as how brothers treat each other. I have a really good category when it says, "Treat younger men as brothers," because I'm like, "Okay. Well, let me think about my brother."
My brother is in my corner. He has my back. He cares for me. He prays for me. He gives me wise counsel. It's like he shepherds me. It's like God has given me a shepherd who has followed me around all of my life to care for me, watch out for me, protect me, provide in different ways. It has been such an incredible gift.
When I was 30 years old, on a Wednesday morning in Austin, Texas, on Congress Avenue, at the Stephen F. InterContinental hotel, I was drunk out of my mind with two homeless guys because I didn't want to be alone. I was like, "Come drink with me. I'll buy you whatever you want." My brother found out and that day got a one-way ticket to Austin, Texas, put me in my own car, and drove me back to Dallas where my family was waiting to care for me.
He didn't lecture me. Not once. He loved me in truth and action and painted a picture for me of what could be if I would leave those ways. "This isn't who you are. God has better for you. We're here for you." I moved in with him and his wife Mandy. They took me in because my life was unraveling. So, older men, that's how we care for younger men in the church. We don't tear them down.
There's a thing in this day and age, and maybe it has always existed. I think about the 60s and 70s. It was probably the case. But we disparage Millennials and Gen Z. I'm Gen X, so it's a thing to talk bad about them, to mock them…their work, their communication style, their initiative, whatever it may be. That's a thing. Dude, let me tell you. Millennials are powerful. They have the power to raise things from the dead. They single-handedly have raised Crocs from the dead.
The Crocs should have stayed in the tomb, but they raised them from the dead. And not only that…Crocs with socks, which is anathema. They weren't good the first time around, and now they've complemented them with socks. It's horrible. If you read in Revelation, it says that one of the signs that Christ will be coming soon is men will begin wearing Crocs with socks. I am certain it's in The Message translation if you check it out.
The pictures you just saw are of JD Rodgers, who is the creative director of the young adult team. He is the creative director for the largest young adult gathering in the world. So, who do you think has more artistic and aesthetic prowess? It ain't me. I wear jeans and boots every day of my life, and they should make fun of me. But JD is not only with Crocs and socks. That brother preaches the gospel according to the Scriptures. He does it in a way and in an outfit I wouldn't wear, but the message he's proclaiming is eternity shifting.
Did you know that many people go to him at this church and say, "Hey, JD, I want to learn from you"? Older people go to him and say, "Would you teach me how I can craft this message better, how you can help me to shape this in a way that I can deliver it in a better way?" Because these Millennials and Gen Z are brilliant, and God has gifted them and wired them. P.S., they grew up under your generation, so it's kind of your fault if you think they're going rogue.
They're amazing individuals, and they're going to be the ones leading the church. The re:gen team is all Millennials. I'm the old man in the club. They are forward-thinking, gospel-minded, kingdom-driving, and it is a gift and blessing. So, we don't tear down. You can make fun of their fashion but not their passions. That's all in fun, but not to deconstruct and tear down the next generation. We're to treat them as brothers.
Then older women. The older women we're to treat as mothers. It says mothers. That's care, dignity, respect as well. I would encourage you to rise for them as well, just like you would the older man, and greet them and love them well. We used to have the Friday prayer gathering at noon on Fridays. This was like a handful of guys, and then a bunch of older women, I think some of whom were widows.
I mean, you want to talk about mothers of the faith. Do you want to learn how to pray? Find one of the older women in this church and greet them. Stop and talk to them. Introduce yourself and pray with them. Mickey Friedrich, one of our elders, used to go to that gathering. It was just a few men and me, but these women were incredible.
When we, because of other responsibilities, said, "Hey, we're going to have to stop formally meeting on Fridays because we're getting pulled in other directions," the women said, "Okay. Great. Well, we're going to keep meeting informally" and are still continuing to pray for you, for this church. They walk up to me and ask me about things I forgot I even said. "How's this or that?" I'm like, "How did you know that?" It's not because they have good memories. It's because they're still praying for those things, these dear women, mothers in the faith.
Younger women it says we're to treat as sisters in all purity. Here's a picture from Halloween this year. We have three kids: Hill, Penny, and Judd. We tell our kids, "You can't dress up as anything mean or evil." So, we got Superman, a knight, and a mythical horse, a unicorn. The boys dressed up as protectors. If you ask Hill, "Hey, what do boys do for girls…?" I encourage you to do that if you ever meet him. Ask him. Put him to the test. "What do boys do for girls?"
He will tell you, "Boys protect girls," because we are hardwiring that truth into him. "As a brother, you protect your sister, and not only your sister but every girl you encounter. You're a protector." That's not chauvinistic. It's godly. It's what God would have us do. P.S., you protect them in your dating, in the way you talk, in the way you touch, in your intentions. That is how you treat younger women: as sisters.
Oftentimes, we're asking ourselves, "What is God's will for my life in my work, my career, my job? Who does he want me to marry? What's your will for me, God?" He has made it crystal clear. In 1 Thessalonians 4:3 he says, "This is the will of God for you: that you would be sanctified," which means shaped into the image of Christ. Well, how can you be shaped into the image of Christ? That you would avoid sexual immorality.
How you look at a woman, talk to a woman, touch a woman… It's to be in all purity, that you would avoid sexual immorality. This is one of the ways boys protect girls and treat them as sisters. Some of you ladies in hearing that need to break up with your boyfriend because he is not honoring you as a sister in all purity. I tell guys, "Until you have placed a ring on a woman's finger, she is either to you…" Every single woman on this earth is either to you a mother or sister according to this passage.
"In all purity." We're to have eyes like shepherds and not eyes like wolves seeking to devour. How you treat others with your eyes will be how you treat others with your lives. Your heart is guiding your eyes, and it will become an outworking of you. You're to treat them in all purity, thinking… In your mind, let it be the refrain, "This is my sister. God is watching."
It goes on in 1 Thessalonians 4 and says, "God will avenge men for all such sins," and if you reject this teaching, you don't reject me or Paul who wrote it, but you reject God. He cares deeply that we treat our sisters in absolute purity. That's how we relate to one another in the family of God under the household with him as our Father. Now we're going to move to our next one.
2 . Provision for your family, especially your widowed mom. Make financial provision for your mom if and when she becomes a widow. Now, this one, beginning, middle, and end, God goes to lengths to say, "You have to care for your mom." Your parents, your mom, particularly your immediate family. Here's what it is.
Verse 4: "But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents…" That make some return… The Greek is amoibas. It's like this reward for their parents. It says a reward for service. It's like, "Because of the services you gave me, I render to you a financial exchange." It's not just like, "Well, I'm going to love you." It's that "I will care for you." That make some return. It's not presents at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a financial provision.
"…make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God." Here's that passage I said at the beginning: "But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household…" In context, in particular, that would be for your mom if and when she becomes a widow. "…he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
Now, I want you to look at the pronouns of that passage. It says his relatives, his household, he has denied the faith. There was a masculine pronoun throughout that passage. One application here for men in particular… Going all the way back to the garden where God said to Adam, "You will work the ground, and the ground will work against you, but you are to toil." He has ordained that men will work and, in their work, become providers for their family. Here he says if you don't, you've denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever.
I know with this many people watching, listening, and present, there are men who are holding out for that perfect job, that dream job, that big "What if?" You bought a URL, and someday you're going to get some funding, and it's going to pop if you get enough followers, or whatever it may be. In the meanwhile, God says (not me), if you're not providing for your family, you're worse than an unbeliever. You've denied the faith.
God is saying you can have your dream job, your aspiration, but in the meantime, you'd better be providing. You'd better become a driver for Amazon or whatever it may be. You need income before you go after that aspiration. Regardless, we are to work and make provision. So, some of you need to stop waiting for the perfect job and start working in a paying job.
Verse 16: "If any believing woman…" So, it was talking to men. Now it's talking to women. Daughters and daughters-in-law, you're not off. "…has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows." Here's the thing. I read this passage, and I asked our database team… I texted Mark Wampler. I was like, "Hey, how many widows are at Watermark?" He was like, "There are 50 members who are widows…200 who attend, 50 who are members."
I was like, "Wow. That's a lot of Scripture for that few people." Then it was like, "No, no, no." Widows is the next passage. This passage right here is to adult children, and adult children caring for their aging parents. This isn't about widows. This application is for adult children, and Watermark is replete with adult children, 18 and up…20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, even 60s if your parents are still alive. This is for us, that we would make a commitment today. "Mom, Dad (but especially Mom), I've got you. I'm your son (or your daughter). I will care for you, because God tells me to." That we would make a decision.
There's an AARP billboard that has a little girl surrounded by her parents, and then in the next picture it has that girl grown up and full age, and her parents are older. In the middle it says, "Roles change." The message to the American Association of Retired Persons is like, "Hey, you cared for them. Let them now care for you. Let your kids into your life. They want to help. Let them do it."
This is what God is saying. He's like, "Hey, church, AARP gets it." They're not a Christian organization, and even they understand that children now care for their parents. How much more the people of God in whom the Spirit dwells, who have the commands of God, would know, "They cared for you then; you care for them now." That's what God says.
I left my family with my in-laws late this week to come back and prepare for this message, and I pulled my oldest son aside into the bathroom and said, "Hey, Hill, you're the oldest man in the house now." I mean, there was Granddad and Great-grandfather, but in our family, he's the oldest. I said, "You take care of Mom. Okay? You're the oldest. You take care of Mom." I want to build that into him now and not just before I die and when he's 50 and it's his time to do it. He needs to know, "You take care of Mom."
Now, he threw a fit and was a terror to her. Different story. But God here in 1 Timothy 5, verses 4, 8, and 16… He also is pulling us aside and saying, "Take care of Mom. Church, take care of Mom." Yes, your parents. Yes, your household. But here, the thrust of this passage is widows. "Take care of Mom." That's what it says. Echoing all the way back to Cain, talking about the garden again. It's almost like this refrain, that God is saying, "Yes, you are your mother's keeper."
My brother and I watched my parents do this with my grandmother who was a widow for 48 years. We watched my mom and my dad care for her. She was a part of the family. Not an extension…a part. Like, multiple meals throughout the week, soccer games, cutting her lawn, picking up stuff, home repair, car repair, sending money, every holiday. She was just there. She's where we went when my parents went on vacation to beautiful places, which hurt me as a kid, and now I totally understand.
They took care of my grandmother. My dad treated her like his own mom. I had an example for it. Just last month, my brother and I were sitting in the backyard and talking about just this thing, like, "Hey, at some point, Mom and Dad have to move down here." They're in Missouri. They've always lived there. They're with their best friends, but at some point… It's not even a choice. We are going to move them here, and we will care for them.
My dad, being on the Elmore side of the family, is probably going home first. My mom's side… My grandma lived to 100. Mom is likely going to be the one. My mom says they're both going home at the same time, but regardless, my brother and I, Matt and I, will take care of Mom. My dad needs to know that, and she needs to know that. That's what God has ordained, and so it will be.
But it's not just elderly. One of Laura's best friends from college (my wife is 35 years old) has lived as a widow with her children because her husband died in a tragic accident while trying to provide and care for their family. This has torn Laura's heart as she watches her friend walk through this, but her family has come around her.
In our Community Group, Beth and Shane Barnard, on both sides of the family, have widowed moms, Beth's mom and Shane's mom. Shane's dad died years ago. Beth's dad died just this year, and we have seen them. We've had an example, a front row seat to how to care for your parents. Shane and his brother Justin built their mom a house on the land where Justin lives. They were like, "Hey, this is your home. We've got you."
As if that wasn't enough, they put an RV in their backyard. "Hey, Mom, you're welcome here. You stay as long as you want." And the same for Beth's mom. They have spent months in Ohio when Beth's dad was in hospice care there at the home, and then months after caring for Beth's mom. This is a grief observed. You have to see it. No one can experience this. As my kids watch me grieve… Such a great example.
The Ten Commandments. The fifth one: "Honor your father and mother." We love to drill that into our children. "Hey, honor your father and mother; go clean your room. Honor your father and mother; eat your green beans. Honor your father and mother." We teach it in kids' ministry. Did you know when Jesus teaches this verse, "Honor your father and mother," it's not to kids? He didn't say, "Let the little children come to me. Boys, girls, honor your mother and father."
He rebuked the Pharisees with it, these adult, grown children Pharisees. He rebuked them. He said, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commands of Moses to establish your false traditions, and you don't even allow grown children, adult children, to care for their aging parents, saying they should instead give it to God to further your pharisaical agenda, when they should be caring for their parents." Jesus uses Exodus 20:12 to honor your father and mother in that way.
So, you don't age out at 18 of "Honor your father and mother." It continues on, especially to care for your aging mother. This is why membership matters. Family is the first line of defense, but if family can't provide, then the church steps in…church, meaning, Community Group. So, if you're here, you need to be a member, which is what we talked about earlier as far as connecting and joining the church; to read and agree to the covenant; to share your testimony that you are in Christ; to join a Community Group; to be shepherded.
First Peter 5:2 says, "Shepherd the flock among you." There's no way to shepherd the flock among us if we don't know who they are. So, to be a part of a Community Group, to be shepherded, and to use the gifts you've been given by the Spirit to build up the church. That's what it is to be a member, and it matters, so that when these things happen, whether you're a widow or not, with financial hardship…
If your family, who is the first line of defense, cannot meet that need, then the church, your Community Group, that family of God does. If the Community Group can't meet that need, then they will call the pastor over that Community Group as the community director and say, "Hey, we're unable," and they'll walk you through that, and the church will provide.
There has always been a promise here that no member will ever go without food, clothing, or shelter, but that can't happen without giving. So giving matters. The church can't care without the church giving. That's the means, which is why Laura and I do, and you all do. We give in order that the body could be cared for reciprocally.
3 . Faithfulness of the widow. Now there's this instruction about widows, and there are two paths the Lord lays. He knows the difficulty, the temptation, what you're going to face, how the fleshly comforts are going to be screaming at you, dear widows. He says there's a path of faithfulness and there's a path following the flesh. Here it is in verses 5 and 6.
"She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives." So, Christ and the church have a faithfulness to widows and widows have a faithfulness to Christ and the church.
Rather than me telling widows how they should live, providentially, a widow emailed one of our elders, David Leventhal, and she agreed that I could share this letter she wrote, not knowing that it would be a part of this message later. She said, "Yes, please read it." This is from Wendy Park. She became a widow six years ago. She's here at Watermark, serving in Kaleidoscope and women's Bible study. She will now teach us by her own life and words.
"My husband died September 14, 2014, after a 100-day battle with cancer. He was 42, I was 39, and our kids were 12, 9, and 2-1/2 at the time. I was a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling them due to their special educational needs. I cannot even begin to describe the devastation we faced with his death. I have said it repeatedly to people over the years that you have no idea how one you are as a married couple until it is gone.
Ours was not a perfect marriage by any stretch of the imagination, but when my hubby went home, half of me went with him, and I was left behind trying to figure out how to heal and become a whole person again. I was no longer a wife. Trying to live without him was excruciating. The number one question widows ask God is 'What do I do now? What is my purpose?'
First Timothy 5 became a comfort to me, because it gave me a job description as a widow. In fact, I have a Post-it note in my Bible lest I ever forget it. I list it as: 1) Cares for her family. 2) Puts her hope in God. 3) Continues day and night to pray and ask God for help. 4) Is well known for good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, and helping those in trouble. 5) Does not become an idler, gossiper, or busybody. 6) Is devoted to Christ."
Wendy says, "Widows need to know God has a plan and a purpose for them in their pain so that they are able to move forward in their grief. Watermark has been a place of healing and restoration for all of us. I serve in Kaleidoscope, with my oldest two helping, and women's Bible study. I mentor other new widows as I can. I wanted to pass this along to you and the elders so you could hear just a little of what it is like to rebuild as a young widow. It is certainly not an exhaustive list of the challenges I have faced over the last six years, but my goal as a widow is found in 1 Timothy 5."
Dear widows, you need to know that, as Wendy's life in following 1 Timothy 5, your devotion to Christ silences Satan. That's true for every believer but, here in this particular passage, especially for widows. Your daily devotion to Christ silences Satan and leaves him no room for accusation.
Now two things I would be remiss if I didn't share. First from verse 14. Scripture makes it plain and clear that it is okay and even encouraged for widows to remarry. You just need to make sure that man is devoted to Christ, just as you are, so that you would not be unequally yoked; that he is a Bible-believing, Christ-following, free to marry or remarry man and that you would be equally yoked.
I would imagine that some widows are wrestling with, "Is that disloyal to my first husband? And there are differences, and what would my in-laws think?" Others of you are thinking, "I want to live in celibacy and devotion for all of my years as my grandmother did." Either choice is God honoring, and to remarry is actually encouraged here in this passage. You need to know that. That's important. Just make sure that man is devoted to Christ.
Also, do you remember JD who I talked about? JD lost his dad six years ago. His dad was a pastor and went home to be with the Lord. Widows, you're caring for children who are also grieving. JD's mom was caring for him in her own grief even as he was grieving. For every widow, there are likely children also in the grief there.
So, church, these are family values we have to be about. When you walked in, I talked about the Elmore family values, but now you are leaving with God's family values. You take this home and pore over it, because this dear friend of mine, who is a dear widow of the faith, is upholding family values.
When she was faced with affliction of raising a child with autism and her own cancer and the death of her husband after a severe seizure… In all of that, her devotion to Christ silenced Satan as she walked in these family values, glorifying Christ even in her suffering. Walk home with these family values and live them out. Let me pray.
Father, thank you that you have not left us without guidance but that here, adopted by the Father through Jesus, now indwelt by the Spirit, you have given us incredible family values of how we are to interact and care for each other and love each other, that we would love one another as you have loved us, and that we would be an example for the watching world of what it means to be true family.
Though we are not blood family naturally, we are blood family in Christ, and that they would be in awe as they see us respond to older and younger and widows and fatherless, that they would see and long for the love that can only be explained by the one who first loved us. Truly we are family, children of God, because of Jesus.