Caring for Widows
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (James 1:22-27).
As the above passage teaches, Christianity is not just about knowing truth– it is about allowing the truth to inform and direct our actions. God’s Spirit within changes our desires. Gradually, we are able to set aside our tendency to focus all our attention and effort on ourselves. We become able to reach out to people around us and, because of the way Jesus met our need for salvation and forgiveness, we seek opportunities to meet needs.
Within a church family as large as ours, we have a variety of needs. The most effective way for us to help each other is minister to each other. There are many needs that are met very effectively by the simple care of a brother looking out for another brother. If we tried to identify all the ways our members care for and minister to each other, the Compass would be so thick that no one could carry it, much less read it. Community groups and Sunday School classes provide the connections. Individual members take the initiative to be the ears, hands and heart of Jesus to one another.
Certain members, however, have needs that are mentioned specifically in Scripture. Widows and orphans are groups of people about whom God has given specific instruction in His Word. As North Side’s leadership strives to be the church God wants us to be, we must give attention to the needs of those people. Our Homes for Hope emphasis has led many of our people to become foster or adopting parents. Recently, we began focusing on the needs of the widows in our church as well.
In two separate meetings, one in March and one in April, the Staff Elders have met with a group of widows. The meetings have been listening sessions in which the Elders (mainly Jeff) asked questions and then listened to the widows. The widows expressed that the very act of meeting, talking and listening was helpful and encouraging. In addition, several interesting and helpful comments were made:
- Depend on the Lord…He is our strength
- Phone calls mean a lot
- Duct tape is your biggest friend
- Staying busy helps a lot.
- It is important to take care of yourself (eat right, exercise, rest, etc.)
Several needs were also mentioned:
- Help with small house repairs
- Help with understanding and organizing finances
- Help with car
The women were honest about the struggles of widowhood. They expressed that a house can be awfully empty when you live alone. They talked about the loneliness they experience. They told about some of the simple challenges of life – being reluctant to get on a ladder to change a light bulb because of a fear of falling.
As the elders listened, we became convinced that legitimate and significant needs were being expressed. When we talked among ourselves the next day, we discussed the probability that the way to address the needs was not to create a widows’ program. We talked about facilitating the connection of individuals who can help with individuals who need help.
Looking forward, we want to be godly and Scriptural in regard to widows among our church body. First of all, we must realize that, according to Scripture, God is watching over widows.
Psalm 68:5 says, “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy.” Psalm 146:9 says, “The LORD protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but He frustrates the plans of the wicked.”
God Himself knows what each widow is going through.
Secondly, widows, like all Christians, have the responsibility to honor God with their lives. A summary group of verses for the Christian life could be –
“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33)
“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’” (Matthew 11:28)
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” (Phil 4:4)
“No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Thirdly, the widows’ families have responsibilities. “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)
Lastly, the church has responsibility as described in 1 Timothy 5:1-16.
As a church, let us pray for wisdom in meeting widows’ needs. If you are willing and able to help, please call the Church Office or speak to one of the elders.