The second role defined in the New Testament as needing full time support is what Paul calls the “widow indeed” in 1 Timothy 5:3-16 (NASB). Paul delineates clearly what the qualifications are for this role and what the job description is. She is to be at least 60 years old, have no family to support her and to have been faithful in serving the Lord and His people. It appears as though she is to actually make a pledge to serve the Lord and not to be remarried, and for this reason younger women are exempt from this role. Her sole job description is to continually pray, night and day.
This is not just a case of charity. With God’s plan, not only is a woman without means granted stable provision, but perhaps even better, the church is blessed with constant prayer bombarding the throne of God! This has got to be a powerful partnership. Not only is this woman given financial support, but she is also granted a meaningful purpose for her remaining days. She is given a privilege of great significance rather than brushed aside.
Wow. I wonder what our churches would be like if we had apostles starting churches all the time in new areas and among new peoples, and the churches were supported by full-time prayer warriors—night and day! I can’t think of a better investment in kingdom resources. Church would actually be investing in spiritual endeavors of kingdom expansion and we would be investing in spiritual battle with full-time prayers and intercession.
In this cast-aside society where people are routinely brushed off as not valuable because of a lack of vocation or a handicap of sorts, this principle could make a huge difference. In God’s economy there are no useless Christians who are welfare cases. An elderly, arthritic woman who can barely rise to answer the door, is an extremely valued servant who is needed to breakdown walls of separation, destroy spiritual strongholds and set captives free! She has a calling on her life and is supported full time to serve in this way. I can see why Satan would want for us to get away from such a function. He’d much rather we pay a full-time staff person to keep our youth entertained and focused while the adults have fellowship and teaching. Could it be that the enemy is more threatened by this old woman than the highly educated professional pastor! Ouch.
Paul makes one thing clear in this passage that he also made a point of in 1 Cor. 9—the role is not to be a burden to the church if it can be helped (v. 16). We’ve grown accustomed to seeing the church as a burden to the pastor, but Paul saw things the other way around. I think our concerns are often misplaced because our values are far removed from the New Testament.I wonder how our churches would be if we were more concerned for the stress placed on the church than on getting as much from her as we can?