Who is Her Family? God’s Plan for Widow Care
“Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. . . But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” – 1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8
As you might expect, among all the topics the Bible instructs us on, caring for widows is an important one on God’s heart. 1 Timothy 5 is written about the widow to the family surrounding her (biological and church family). Women were designed by God to have a covering whether that be the woman’s father before marriage or her husband after marriage with a few exceptions for those called to singleness. The teaching of these verses are clear – for those who care for the widow there is a blessing for those who ignore that call there is a curse. This is serious business!
So who exactly is the widow indeed that Timothy is talking about? This is the term used to describe a woman left alone and left without family or resources to meet her needs. When we find a widow that has been left without a biological family to cover her, the family of God, the body of Christ, is commanded to care for her.
According to God’s command, a widow with children and grandchildren should receive her care from them. While this works out fine on paper – holy paper as it is the Word of God – practically working this out is not always easy. In fact, relationships can be delicate, communication blurred, and needs of the widow often are unmet by her biological family. But the bottom line is that if the widow’s Christian believing biological family do not provide for their own, they are worse than an unbeliever. Yikes!
But before you think you are exempt from caring for the widow in your biological family, because you are out of town or other assorted reasons, read some very real problems the widow might encounter, leaving her in need of help!
Problem 1: The widow is young raising fatherless children who don’t have the maturity or capability to care for their mother. During the child-raising years, the widowed mom is busy taking care of her children and not the other way around. She will need the body of Christ in these times!
- Help her establish a Support Squad.
- Ask her what needs she has – the widow is not used to asking for help, she will be so thankful when you ask her for her list of needs. Offer to help in areas you are good at—preparing meals, lawn maintenance, child-care, financial assistance or guidance…etc.
- Mentor her fatherless children – teach her kids valuable life skills i.e. how to cut the grass or maintain a car or make home repairs. This will prepare the fatherless to give back when they are adults facing the command to care for their widowed mom.
Problem 2: The biological family lives in another state making it difficult to provide meaningful care.
For the long-distance adult children to their widowed mom or family member:
- Call periodically – ask the widow in your life what needs she has and help her meet those needs.
- Plan working visits – where you can knock out her list of repairs or needs
- Provide local help – either hands-on for the tasks she is unable to accomplish or provide financial support to hire help when needed. Discuss a plan for her recurring needs to be handled.
- Invest in her – send a check, gift card, or call to pray with her.
For the widow to her adult children:
- Plan a time to discuss your needs with your children – Don’t beat your family over the head with 1 Timothy 5:8 or manipulate them with scripture; however, have the important conversation of letting your needs be known. Share your budget asking for their input on ideas to manage your funds and needs. This might open the door for your adult children to realize your need for help.
- Make it easy for your children to assist – Ask for the gift of help during gift-giving seasons: On Mother’s Day the widow might request time to knock out that list of repairs. Or for your birthday, request gift certificates for lawn care or a handy man service. If your need is emotional, ask for gifts of pampering via a manicure or massage.
For the widow to her out-of-town adult children:
- Adopt a local widow whose children and grandchildren are out of state – and care for her in the way you would want others to care for your own mother or grandmother.
It is beautiful when widows are cared for by her both biological family and the family of God. However, the goal for the widow is to direct her focus to God according to 1 Timothy 5:5,
“Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.”
Whether you are her biological family or a part of her church community, help her to put her trust in God to bring the provision she needs. He will always be faithful.