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1-2 Don’t reprimand a senior member of your church, appeal to him as a father. Treat the young men as brothers, and the older women as mothers. Treat the younger women as sisters, and no more.

How to deal with widows in your church

3-4 You should treat with great consideration widows who are really alone in the world. But remember that if a widow has children or grandchildren it is primarily their duty to show the genuineness of their religion in their own homes by repaying their parents for what has been done for them, and God readily accepts such service.

5-7 But the widow who is really alone and desolate can only hope in God, and she will pray to him day and night. The widow who plunges into all the pleasure that the world can give her is killing her own soul. You should therefore make the following rules for the widows to avoid abuses:

1. You should make it clear that for a man to refuse to look after his own relations, especially those actually living in his house, is a denial of the faith he professes. He is far worse than a man who makes no profession.

9-10 2. Widows for your church list should be at least sixty years of age, should have had only one husband and have a well-founded reputation for having lived a good life. Some such questions as these should be asked:—has she brought up her children well, has she been hospitable to strangers, has she been willing to serve fellow-Christians in menial ways, has she relieved those in distress, has she, in a word conscientiously done all the good she can?

11-13 3. Don’t put the younger widows on your list. My experience is that when their natural desires grow stronger than their spiritual devotion to Christ they want to marry again, thus proving themselves unfaithful to their first loyalty. Moreover, they get into habits of slackness by being so much in and out of other people’s houses. In fact they easily become worse than lazy, and degenerate into gossips and busybodies with dangerous tongues.

14-15 4. My advice is that younger widows should, normally, marry again, bear children and run their own households. They should certainly not be the means of lowering the reputation of the church, although some, alas, have already played into the enemy’s hands.

16 5. As a general rule it should be taken for granted that any Christian, man or woman, who has a widow in the family should do everything possible for her, and not allow her to become the church’s responsibility. The church will then be free to look after those widows who are alone in the world.

You and your elders

17-20 Elders with a gift of leadership should be considered worthy of respect, and of adequate salary, particularly if they work hard at their preaching and teaching. Remember the scriptural principle: ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads the grain’, and ‘The labourer is worthy of his wages’. Take no notice of charges brought against an elder unless they can be substantiated by proper witnesses. If sin is actually proved, then the offenders should be publicly rebuked as a salutary warning to others.

21 Timothy, I solemnly charge you in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the holy angels to follow these orders with the strictest impartiality and to have no favourites.

22 Never be in a hurry to ordain a man, or you may be making yourself responsible for his sins. Be careful that your own life is pure.

23 By the way, I should advise you to drink wine in moderation, instead of water. It will do your stomach good and help you to get over your frequent spells of illness.

24-25 Remember that some men’s sins are obvious, and are equally obviously bringing them to judgment. The sins of other men are not apparent, but are dogging them, nevertheless, under the surface. Similarly some virtues are plain to see, while others, though not at all conspicuous, will eventually make themselves felt.