“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home.” (Psalm 68:5-6a)
“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. 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. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. 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. Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.” (1 Timothy 5:3-10)
Widows are singled out by the Lord as a group of women who need special care and consideration. The number and frequency of unmarried women in biblical times were far less than it is now; today single unmarried, divorced, and widowed women make up a more significant proportion of the population. However, God’s Word is not to be discounted when we talk about the need for caring for widows. They deserve our help, loyalty, respect, and honor. God gave Naomi a family, through Ruth and Boaz, when she returned to Bethlehem as a widow. When Jesus was dying on the cross, he instructed John to be a son to his mother, Mary, also a widow. The prophetess Anna, having been a widow for many years, dedicated her life to worship, prayer, and fasting at the temple. She was rewarded for her devotion by recognizing Jesus as the promised Messiah (Luke 2:37-38).
In his first letter to Timothy, Paul told the church to revere widows, probably referring to the honor of financially supporting widows who were truly in need. He instructed families to care for widows before expecting the church to care for them. It will please the parent (and widow) when children respectfully help them. Throughout the ages, the family’s care for widows has changed; today many families choose the option of assisted care living facilities where the staff is trained in caring for the elderly. Some facilities do this exceedingly well—women are respected, included in decision-making, and given essential roles and interesting activities. The criteria for knowing if the church should support a widow is precise in 1 Timothy 5:9-10. These women have served God and others honorably and responsibly. In developed nations not many churches need to give these women financial support, but in the majority world, they may not survive without it.
The disciples in the early church saw the need to appoint men to serve Christian widows, and so should we (Acts 6:1-3). Are there widows in your church who are in need? If not, will you not seek and pray for an opportunity to serve other widows in need?