Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 26 August 21:
1 Timothy 5:1-4 — 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.
Today’s verses have much to say about the demand for maintaining both the character and competence to build others up and care for the needs of others. Godly attributes include both purity and hard work as the fruits of love for God and for others. Today’s instructions to the church by Paul are similar to what he said to the Thessalonians: “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-11) Love others; live quietly; work hard; walk properly; glorify God.
It is easy to be critical, but it is harder to be constructive. Everyone seems to have an opinion, but few seem to come with an offering to personally make the difference. As the adage goes, “Everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to help mom do the dishes.” Or as the Afghans say, “Talk doesn’t make flowers grow.” Two things everyone seems to agree on: Things aren’t right, and it’s someone else’s fault. Today, Paul encourages us to make the difference in the lives of others – encourage them, set the example in conduct (purity and hard work), and “make some return” for others, starting with your own family. Don’t just rebuke others for what they aren’t doing, work hard personally to make people and situations better.
Jesus said the greatest commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) The great commandment of love requires effort for the sake of others, in fact, it requires all of our effort. We have to have a heart for others, and we have to have a plan to love others (loving with all of your mind), and then we have to do the hard work (loving with all your strength), we have to labor in love. Good people do good work, and loving people love to work hard for others. In fact, we were made for work and to have a positive impact on our environment through our work. The first thing God gave Adam was a job, and the second thing God gave Adam was a “helpmate,” so they could work together to love Him and each other in their mutual work. (Genesis 2) Work was ordained by God as “good.” Only sin, self-centeredness, made work toilsome and meaningless. Paul calls us to redeem work by doing the work God intended, fruitful labors of love.
“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.” Today, Paul contrasts those who are busy with busybodies, those who work hard to make a difference as opposed who those who just go around gossiping, criticizing, and complaining. Compare our readings in 1 Timothy today with our reading in Proverbs (Proverbs 26): Notice that Proverbs 26 starts off describing the “fool” who is wise in his own eyes, doesn’t listen, is quick to express his own opinion, doesn’t understand the truth, and only hurts others with his words and opinions; then Proverbs 26 transitions to the “sluggard” who doesn’t work; finally, Proverbs 26 concludes by talking about the quarrelsome gossip, deceiver, and slanderer. All these attributes are discussed together intentionally in Proverbs as Paul does in 1 Timothy because they are all attributes of a self-centered, unloving person. Not everyone who works hard is loving, but everyone who is truly loving works hard, and staying busy working hard for others is a great way to avoid sinning.
- Proverbs 18:9 -- Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys. - Ephesians 4:28 -- Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. - 2 Thessalonians 3:10 -- For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. - Colossians 3:22-24 -- Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. - Proverbs 14:23 -- In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. - Psalm 90:17 -- Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! - 1 Corinthians 16:14 -- Let all that you do be done in love. - Proverbs 12:11 -- Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.
How hard will you work today for the sake of others? How will your hard work today improve the lives of others and contribute to a more positive environment? How will you personally make a difference? How will your family be blessed through your attitude and actions today? Today is a good day for less complaining and more contribution for God’s glory and for the benefit of others. Start in your own home.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) –26 August 21: Work with all your strength today out of love to take care of the needs of others. Start with taking care of your own family. If you have neglected your family in any way, recommit today to taking care of them. Don’t overthink it. Just do it. “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.” (1 Timothy 5:8)