“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, especially his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (NIV) 1 Timothy 5:8
Unlike breaking news which only comes up unexpectedly, we are richly blessed with the word of God which is more than news breaking. Issues regarding various aspects of human endeavours, both physically and spiritually are at our disposal freely. By this, we are able to garner deeper wisdom to contain life situations. In the pastoral epistle to Timothy, the apostle Paul raised one of such important issues regarding providing for one’s relatives (in a time of need). The wider application of this command is precious in our time too.
The emphasis by the apostle Paul was on widows and the support that they needed from both family members primarily, and the Christian family in general. Widows were much vulnerable in the first century and earlier and thus needed some special attention. They were financially spineless and totally dependent on their husbands for their livelihood. Therefore, the children and grandchildren were given the timely instruction of showing concern.
It is without a doubt that there are still such needy situations in our families and communities: a relative who may have lost the partner or a breadwinner, wife who has been widowed, and a husband who has become a widower, children who are orphaned and helpless, etc. And such needs may vary considerably. People with such grave losses need us to share with them and according to Paul, we become worse than unbelievers if we neglect to sense such needs or be insensitive to them.
We are required to share with them what we have been blessed with. We do not have to amass all treasure or wait only occasionally to do these. It may just be too late! The expression of our compassion must reflect in the tenderness of sharing our material possessions (1 John 3:17-18) and other resources.
Among the specific things we could do include visiting, leaving some inspirational words, helping with basic needs, including them in our budgets, inviting them for a dinner, volunteering on weekends, sometimes phone calls, helping with school fees, hospital bills, being an encouragement to them, etc.
Let us continue to pray for sensitive hearts and serving hands that will provide beyond our relatives but to the needy ones around us also- proving that indeed we care as Christians. (James 1:27)