Last Saturday Lourene and I spent the day with my mother. We enjoyed eating at a dive known for serving Memphis’ best breakfast. We shared some great conversations. We played cards and a new (to me) dice game that I found both mindless and fun. And we spent some time at the West Tennessee Veteran’s Cemetery. Last Sunday was the one year anniversary of the date my step-father died after a six-month battle with bone cancer that included several hospitalizations and nearly 80 radiation treatments.
I have learned a lot from my church family at Skyline about caring for my family in times of trouble. For I have watched some of you care for your parents from a distance. Others I have seen open your homes and joyfully provide room for your parents. I have seen you in the emergency rooms and the intensive care units. I have watched as you have gone to daily radiation treatments and yearly check-ups. With some of you I have shared holy moments at the funeral home.
And I have seen some of you faithfully come into church gatherings while looking tired, worn-out, and lifeless, greatly needing the break and encouragement offered by worship, classes, or CORE Groups.
I am thankful to those who have taught me about caring for my family, especially since caring for family is an integral part of a living a faithful Christian life. Maybe we don’t talk about it as much as we should, but being a Christian means you take care of your family. I have been reminded of this as I have spent some time studying 1 Timothy.
In 1 Timothy 5 Paul instructs Timothy and the church at Ephesus to care for widows who are all alone and who have no one else to care for them. But, Paul teaches, if the widow has family, the church is to allow the family to care for the widow. Paul makes it clear the church is not to step-in and provide the care that the family is supposed to provide. To do so would dishonor God. The church is to encourage Christian families to care for one another as a demonstration of godly responsibility.
“Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God” (1 Timothy 5:3-4, NLT).
And so again I thank all of you who have shown me an example of faith in sacrificing yourself to care for your family. Over and over you have told me it’s “no sacrifice at all.” You have told me, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” And yet I know that you have indeed sacrificed personal convenience, time, and financial resources to make sure you provided for your family. It just doesn’t seem like a sacrifice to you because it is done out of love. Love for God. Love for family.
Caring for your family is part of the healthy teaching in a healthy church. Caring for your family is part of living a faithful Christian life. The apostle Paul puts it this way, “But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers” (1Timothy 5:8, NLT).
Thanks to all who have taught me this truth. Keep teaching, because I’m still learning.