Friday, January 8, 2010


God is very fond of widows. In Exodus 22:22-24, He declares that He will "terminate" anyone who causes a widow or an orphan to complain to Him. After reminding Israel of His power, He tells them that He executes judgment for the fatherless and the widows in Deuteronomy 10:17-18. He says He blesses those who provide for them in 24:19. Israel was to give widows and orphans part of their tithe every third year (26:12-13). These are but a few of the many examples found in the Law. The Writings and the Prophets have much to say, as well. Israel was commanded to protect and provide for their widows and orphans, period.

By the time Jesus began preaching, the religious leaders had not only ignored the many commands and warnings, they had begun taking advantage of them. The synoptic gospels all refer to this (Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47). Abuse of widows was one of the many offenses that prompted Jesus to call them hypocrites.

Apparently, the Church understood the Lord's concern for widows. In Acts 6:1-3, the apostles, upon hearing complaints concerning the lack of provision for them, created an office of the Church specifically for the purpose of tending to the everyday business matters including ministering to widows. The office of deacon began as a group of faithful men who would act as servants. I am not sure how deacons became the authority in churches today, but the office was not intended to be one of leadership, but that of a servant. The apostle Paul, in his letter to Timothy, had much to say about widows. Widows were to be honored, especially by family members (5:3-4). He says a true widow is one who lives for Christ (5:5). A widow was to be provided for by family, but if that wasn't possible, widows over sixty were to be cared for by the Church (5:8-9). Paul repeats the need for the widow to qualify by having been married to only one man and by living a Christian life of service (5:10). James declares that genuine religion is expressed by, among other things, visiting widows and orphans in their affliction (1:27).

So this begs the question: If one's wife qualifies by age and behavior, why is it necessary to spend thousands of dollars on life insurance? Wouldn't the money be better spent as an offering to one's church? The answer is obvious. Our churches do not practice this. In fact, most churches do little to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or provide shelter to the homeless; how then could a family trust that the widow and orphans would be okay? We can't. Sadly, we have become much like the Pharisees of Jesus' day. We worry mostly about people's souls, and neglect their personal needs. I wonder how difficult it is for a homeless person, a hungry person, and certainly a naked person to attend church services? I think they are more likely to be totally focused upon survival, and have no time for spiritual revival. It is the Church that needs revival!

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