Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Who Should the Church Pay: The true widow

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?


mike kim said...

Saw this one coming, Neil. Well-spoken! And thank you for keeping our noses in Scripture, not in our cultural practices. You've given us a lot to think about in the last two posts.

I wonder if there exists a group of people who have ever done this sort of thing and have stories to tell about it.

Jarle Haugland said...

A praying widow!? I did not see that one coming. Beautiful.

I really enjoy reading your blog.

Greetings from Norway. :)

Neil Cole said...

Ha, one didn't see it coming the other did! Well, what we all need to see coming is to actually see the church doing this!

Good question Mike. Someone should do the homework!

Anonymous said...

Wow! That's all I can say to this post.

You really present a compelling argument for supporting prayer warriors. What I appreciate about this post is the emphasis on the elderly and their rightful/important/needed place within the Body of Christ. Somehow, this seems to resonate within my spirit. Though I am a supporter of the 24/7 house of prayer model, defining the elderly for this position seems more appropriate and fitting in my understanding of Scripture.

I've been blessed by the ministry of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. I believe the message coming from that place is relevant and needed in the Body.

That said, I've had some discomfort for the past few months about the fact that over a thousand young people are in Kansas City, living off of support. While I'm not the judge of anyone's walk with the Lord (thank goodness), it's seemed like the young would be more suited to engage their secular communities with the Gospel. They're young, capable of working with their own hands, and understand the current culture, language, etc.

Give the 24/7 prayer warrior role to the mature, the needy, and the frail. Great Grandma Edna may not be the hip-looking lady at the Starbucks, but she has a history with God and the TIME (key) to invest in intercession.

By the ripe age of 60, 70, 80, let's hope most of her rough edges have been smoothed down and she's powerful and effective in Father's hand. I'd wager that there'd be less "loose cannons" in her age-range than 20-somethings, of which I am still a member.

Don't get me wrong, I love IHOP and their emphasis on prayer. However, I think you're onto something, Neil.

Thanks for posting this!

evie welch said...

This was great, what a way to minister to the true widows, for the bible says they shall bare fruit in their old age. They must feel valuable because they are. Not like a welfare case or a burden. Everyone can do something to continue the work of Jesus. He who overcomes and does the work to the end shall recieve the morning star. Rev.2 or 3?