I hope you have made it to a Restoration small group this week. We are talking about 1 Timothy 5. Paul is describing how relationships should work in the household of God. Specifically, how we should honor and encourage each other? How do we care for widows? Who should be in leadership? How do we honor people who lead? How should single men treat single women? How should we honor those who are older than us? It’s immensely practical.
In my small group this morning, we went after this verse in particular.
8 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.
1 Timothy 5:8
What does it mean to ‘provide for your relatives…’ Our first guess is to say this is talking about money. And it is! We are obligated to provide food, clothing, and shelter for our children. We become partners with our parents as they become older and need our help with food, clothing, and shelter.
But what else are we to provide for members of our household?
Our presence. Our households need us to be around– paying attention, asking good questions, and serving. Your roommates need you as a dinner companion and conversation partner. Your children have questions about homework and social media and mean people and friends they think are cute. Your spouse needs to know you are interested in their day and wants to hear what was significant in yours. Our provision is much more than financial– it is also our presence.
My small group REALLY got animated when we started talking about providing for our parents. Yes, we will need to physically think about healthcare and housing.
But what does it mean to mean to be a part of our parents’ emotional provision?
There is all kinds of history and baggage and hurt and joy around that question. And we had a really good discussion. I offered 2 suggestions for what it means to emotionally provide for your parents:
- Forgive them: Every person has a list of wrongs that have been done by their parents. Holding on to that indictment is not serving you (or your parents). Jesus uniquely offers a way for us to forgive whatever has been done or not done. So do the hard work of forgiving your parents. If you get stuck, talk to someone in your ‘household’– a mentor, a pastor, a person in your small group.
- Talk to them: At some point in our 20s and 30s we figure out what our parents want from us… and we experience the thrill/sense of control/power that comes from NOT giving it to them. Providing for your parents means allowing them some access to your life: Call them and tell them about something that happened this week (or month). Ask them a question about their life. Ask them what they would do in a situation you are facing (you don’t have to do what they would do, but it’s nice to be asked). You can provide for your parents by doing the intentional (and hard) work of talking to them.
The Bible never ceases to challenge me. And never ceases to call me to be a better person. I am grateful for my small group. Hope you are in one that is wrestling through Scripture as well.