Creepers Without Support

The  Bible  mentions  “pure  religion”  only once.  “Religion  that  God  our  Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (Js 1:27). Of these two components of pure religion there is much talk about the latter but a convenient negligence of the former. But God repeatedly alerts His people to be extra-sensitive to widows.

 

“Do not take advantage of the widow.. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your  wives  will become  widows and  your children  fatherless,”  said  the Lord  (Ex

22:22). One of the reasons why Israel went into captivity was that they did not care for their widows. The prophets warned them even before their doom (Jer 7:6,7; 22:3,4).

 

The apostles specifically taught about the ministry to the widows (1 Tim 5:3-16). They spoke about the responsibility of individuals, of the church and of the widows themselves.

 

1. The Responsibility of Individuals

 

First of all we are exhorted to respect widows. “Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need” (1 Tim 5:3). Greet them respectfully, whether rich or poor. Listen to what they have to tell you. Find out if you can help them in some way—and you have done a tremendous ministry for the day even before giving the help they asked for.

 

By  the  term  “really  widows”  (NKJV)  Paul  meant  the  godly  ones  who  were destitute. Never despise them. If you have such a neighbour, send some cookies or a birthday gift and invite her for some special occasions in your home and make her feel wanted. They are missing out a lot of good things in life. “Visiting widows in their trouble” means arranging for their government aid, walking to the offices or banks to get their papers signed and moved, to take them to the doctor or visit them in the hospital, helping their children and such things. They are entitled to a portion of our income. If we give them their due, God will bless “all” the work of our hands (Dt

24:19,20,21).

 

The Patriarch Job assured a dying man that he would take care of his wife. The man blessed Job as he departed from this earth. Job caused the widow to forget her sorrow and sing for joy (Job 29:13). He never took advantage of the lone woman, but was her spiritual guide. She never had to wait for her provisions (see Job 31:9-18).

 

Don’t blame your daughter-in-law for your son’s death and throw her out. What if it happens to your daughter? Don’t ill-treat your mother-in-law or grandmother who are widows. They loved and cared for you once. Now it is your opportunity to repay. Most prefer to live with the children. It hurts when they are sent to old age homes. But

 

the modern generation looks upon them as a burden. Children grow healthier with loved ones around them. It only needs a little wisdom to adjust to them.

 

Give her freedom in the house, to go out, or bring in her friends for tea. Encourage her. If you are living overseas, at least give her a holiday abroad. “If a widow has children  or grandchildren,  these should  learn  first of all to put their  religion  into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God... Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially  for  their  own  household  has  denied  the  faith  and  is  worse  than  an unbeliever,” (1 Tim 5:4,8).

 

While caring for the widow don’t have an ulterior motive of inheriting her property. Oh, what pain it is for parents to know children care for them only for their money! God is quick to witness against those  who exploit widows (Mal 3:5). He pronounced “woe”  on  those  who  preyed  on  widows  (Isa  10:1,2).  Jesus  pronounced  woe  on religious leaders who devoured widows’ houses (Mt 23:14).

 

A husband must transfer a considerable sum of money or property to his wife’s name before he even starts thinking about his death. In case of his unexpected death she should not be at the mercy of the children or relatives. Since many widows are duped, he should also let her know what he has in her name.

 

2. The Responsibility of the Church

 

The tithes and freewill offerings  in the Old Testament were also meant for the widows that they might “rejoice” during the festivities (Dt 14:28,29; 16:10-14). In the New  Testament  Church  a  daily  distribution  system  to  the  widows  through    the deacons was  practised (Acts 6:1). Women disciples also provided and cared for them (9:36,39). Subsequently Paul laid down specific instructions for the care of widows in the administrative context of the church (1 Tim 5:9,10). The younger widows were advised to marry (v14).

 

The church from its income must provide for the poor widows and extricate them from decent begging. Personal care must be given to their children and other needs. The congregation must be taught to show tangible concern towards their widowed relatives and not hoard money for five generations.

 

3. The Responsibility of the Widow

 

When you lose your husband all of a sudden, you find yourself alone and cold in a crowded world. Your own warm familiar world has crumbled to dust. Problems start springing out like genies from a bottle. But don’t let the tragedy fossilize you. Tackle problems one by one as they present themselves. Make God the oasis of the fiery desert of your future. “The widow who is really in need, and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues to pray and to ask God for help night and day ” (1 Tim

5:5).

 

Anna did just that. “... and then she was a widow until she was eightyfour. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying” (Lk 2:36-38). Fifty years or more of widowhood! Yet no complaints. “She gave thanks to the Lord” (v38). It is up to you to go on appreciating the gift of life and doing the best you can

 

with it. Plan your future. If you can lead an independent life, good. If your children willingly take care of you, accept it. That needs some adjustments, but at least you can escape the doldrums.  Be a blessing and help to your children.  It will be good to distribute your stay with each. That way your presence will be better relished and the relationship smoother. No doubt it is hard life. But God says, “Let widows depend on Me” (Jer 49:11).

 

Don’t cling on to your son or daughter. Mingle with people of your age. You might have longed for times to quietly sit down and read or write without worrying about the next meal. Now’s your time! Be active.

 

Paul warns widows against idleness (1 Tim 5:13). Misfortune destroys some but motivates  others.  My  widowed  mother-in-law  was  desperately  in  love  with  my husband. She struggled for five years and one fine morning made a beautiful decision. She began collecting money for missionary work. Fresh breeze started blowing into her life. Then she began counselling the families she visited. Then she took courage to reach out to a nearby village. In the next five years a little congregation sprang up there. When she died, she was a Dorcas, except that we could not resurrect her. Such was  the  crowd  of  mourners.  Two  young  people  from  that  village  are  today missionaries with us. “Enlarge ... stretch out ... lengthen ... expand ... nations!” (Isa

54:1-3). Don’t lose these blessings by your idleness and timidity.

 

Your natural tendency is to save every mite for your future. But God’s laws are paradoxical. He did not send Elijah to a rich family with a double bedroom apartment. He sent him to a widow in Sidon who was about to eat the last morsel with her son and die. She gave out of her poverty and her flour and oil received a divine touch. How sadly the widows  of Israel  missed  the visitation  of the Lord! (Lk 4:24-26). Writing about widows Paul said, “The widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives” (1 Tim 5:6). But here we find a widow’s son living after death! What an irony! (1 Ki 17:17-23).

 

Worry, fear, insecurity, tears, disappointments, depression and frustration may have become part of your life. But God says, “Do not be afraid ... For your Maker is your husband. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit  ...  with deep  compassion  I will bring  you  back..  Though  the mountains  be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken ... O you afflicted, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones with colourful gems ... sapphires ... rubies ... crystals ... precious stones” (Isa 54:4-12). Isaiah 54 is written for you. Read it and reread it. He protects you (14,15). He defends you (Psa 68:5). He establishes your border (Prov 15:25). He will perform miracles for you, because He has compassion on you (2 Ki 4:1-7; Lk 7:13).

 

“All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace” (Isa

54:13). King Solomon sent and called Hiram out of Tyre for the work of the temple. “He was a widow’s son ... He was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill to do all kinds of bronze work” (1 Ki 7:13-21). Blessed widow!

 

Both in the church and society the lot of young widows is  more difficult. Wives suspect you. Men take advantage of you. Eyebrows will be raised even at your normal

 

friendship with men. Therefore you should be all the more careful to lead a blameless life (1 Tim 5:7).

If loneliness is killing you, you need the companionship of a man, a father for your children, if you need a man’s help at home for your own safety or if perchance you fall in love with a suitable man who loves you and will care for your children, then please go ahead and marry (1 Cor 7:9; Rom 7:2,3). There is nothing to feel guilty about it. That in no way reduces your love or fidelity to your husband who is no more. Society or your own family may look down upon you. Face it. Even if God gives a gift the priest will not pass it on, says a Tamil proverb. We are entombed in a rigid society which will not permit even what the Bible permits.

 

There  are many distorted  notions  in  a land  like  India  where  women  try to be faithful to their dead husbands. You don’t have the dilemma of facing two husbands in heaven if you remarry! You have not understood the Scriptures. For in heaven we will be like the angels of God (Mt 22:29). In fact, after writing in the first letter to the Corinthians that the widows may choose to remain single (1 Cor 7:8,40), after seeing some real life serials, Paul strongly recommends that they marry. “I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage the home, and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander” (1 Tim 5:14). “A woman is bound  to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord” (1 Cor 7:39). So dress well and look good. Don’t neglect your appearance.

 

We need Naomis for those who are silently shedding tears in our country. Grown up children should help the mother in this regard. The church must take the first step to get young widows married. Whenever I distribute flowers on a happy occasion my heart is inflamed at the thought that I am not expected to give to widows. Some even consider the very mention of the word “widow” as inauspicious. Some do not allow widows to welcome a new couple. Have we really turned from idols to the living God? Let us break these heart-breaking traditions. Don’t single them out while distributing flowers. Get them to sit in the front row in weddings. Ask them to bless the new couple.

 

Child marriage is still very much in vogue in India. When the husband, who may be

6 years or 16 years dies, the girl remains a widow all her life. Heartlessness! Some are kept under lock and  key.  Others  turn prostitutes.  Who  is to be blamed? It is we Christians who have closed our eyes to the shackled millions. Our bread and butter is more important to us than somebody’s soul.

 

“Plead for the widow,” says the Lord (Isa 1:17). Give them moral support. Pandita Ramabai was a widow under whose wings hundreds of ill-treated widows took shelter and thrived. Raise your voice against Sati (The practice of burning the wife in the husband’s pyre). Though abolished by the efforts of men like William Carey it is propping up its monstrous head again. We are the little Davids to fling the pebbles of truth on these heinous practices. Let’s do all that’s possible to please the God of the widows!

 

A Tamil poet describes the King Pari who saw a jasmine creeper without a support to climb. He was so moved with pity that he left his chariot for the creeper to climb on

 

and walked to his palace. Such is our culture. What do we do for the so many creepers around us without support?

 Daily Devotional for Women (Tamil)

  •   December 2 Myths women believe
      Dec 02, 2020
    Myths women believe more...
  •   December 1 Myths women believe
      Dec 01, 2020
    Myths women believe more...
  •   November 30 Let me out, Let me out!
      Nov 30, 2020
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 Daily Devotional for Women (English)

  •   367. December 31 Golden Girl
      Dec 31, 2019
    Now the Golden Girl has climbed from her state, step by step, to the right hand of the King. She is now the bride and the queen. Let?s see the blessings of the right hand of God more...
  •   366. December 30 Golden Girl
      Dec 30, 2019
    The enemy has all the gold but God will give it to us more...
  •   365. December 29 Golden Girl
      Dec 29, 2019
    Your faith is costlier than gold more...
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 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 4

  •   051. Blessed Accident
      Feb 21, 2018
    A sailor wanted to go round the world in a boat and set up a record. Sadly, a storm lashed his boat and it broke to pieces. The sailor swam and reached a small uninhabited island. He ate wild fruits and roots and survived. He made a more...
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 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 3

  •   094 Ant and Worm
      Jun 01, 2016
    An ant was majestically walking along a forest. She saw a worm crawling. The ant told the worm: ?Look at me. I am so brisk and smart. You should be faster and dress up beautifully. You look ugly.? Despising the worm the ant moved along. more...
  •   095 Diligence Pays
      Jun 01, 2016
    Ragu was very jealous of the humble minister, Ra more...
  •   096 Poor Minister
      Jun 01, 2016
    A poor minister of God used to go to a rich businessman asking for contribution for the work he was doing in villages. The rich man would give excuses and ask hi more...
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 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 2

  •   001 The Modern Prodigal
      Jul 11, 2013
    The Modern Prodigal more...
  •   002 Lower One Foot, Lord!
      Jul 11, 2013
    Lower One Foot, Lord! more...
  •   003 Beautiful Cheques
      Jul 11, 2013
    Beautiful Cheques more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories For Little Hearts

  •   Introduction
      Jun 06, 2013
    Story Behind The Stories more...
  •   001. Is GOD For Real
      Jun 05, 2013
    There were two scientists. One was a believer in the true God and another was an aetheist more...
  •   002.The Language of Love!
      Jun 05, 2013
    A circus was running in town, and crowds elbowed each other to buy tickets. One day an unusual incident happened more...
  • Click here for more 

 Sweet Sixteen

  •   019 - Mala the Great!
      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Dec 1988 Dear Aunty, It?s been 2 months since we were in touch. I?m saturated with ?news? to give you and nearly bursting with curiosity to hear what?s been happening at your end. The last letter you wrote to me was an eye-opener. To more...
  •   020 - The Rainbow
      Jun 25, 2015
    On the day she arrived, she was at my doorstep! ?Hi aunty? ?Oh Mala, how are you?? She shook my hand so long and hard that it ached, and planted a kiss on my cheek - so unusual of her. ?Why didn?t you write aunty?? ?Oh, I knew you?d be coming soon. So more...
  •   021 - What to Do?
      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Jan 1989 Dear Aunty, Christmas holidays were great fun. It was lovely getting in touch with friends and relatives. On New Year?s Day I gleaned thro? my diary- There was so much to thank God for! My friend Esther is in Rajasthan. She wrote asking for g more...
  • Click here for more 

 Family

  •   Creepers Without Support
      Sep 30, 2016
    Creepers Without Support The Bible mentions ?pure religion? only once. ?Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unspotted from the world? (Js 1:2 more...
  •   Mothers,Be Mothers!
      Sep 30, 2016
    Mothers,Be Mothers! In the first chapter of Proverbs we meet the dynamic personality called mother. She is presented not as a wobbly- footed weakling but as one who passes the law. Even inside the home she does not appear as a second class citizen, ra more...
  •   The Mother-in-laws Son!
      Sep 17, 2016
    Many a wife would introduce her mate as her mother-in-law?s son, rather than as her husband. Nearly 80% of Indian husbands continue to be (their mother?s) sons. According to a recent statistics, not less than 10% of suicides in India are due to the proble more...
  • Click here for more 

 Ministry

  •   I am a Missionary!
      Aug 14, 2018
    1. I am a missionary and so I work for God and not for an organisation. Though I am under the discipline of an organisation, whatever I do, I do with the fear of God. God is my Master and so I subject myself to the leaders. I quell any rebellious spirit t more...
  •   Sewer turned Sower!
      Mar 13, 2017
    To understand John chapter 4, we must first understand about the Samaritans. Samaria was between Judea and Galilee so much so any Jew travelling from Galilee to Judea or Judea to Galilee needed to go through it. Many Jews, because of the aversion they ha more...
  •   Afraid of Iron Chariots?
      Jun 29, 2016
    Afraid of Iron Chariots? more...
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 Women

  •   Golden Girl
      Aug 27, 2018
    As India basks in the glory of the golden girls who kissed their gold medals in the 2018 Asian Games, let us meditate upon the Golden Girl who glitters in the Scriptures. The Psalmist profiles her in his 45th Psalm: ?At Your right hand is the royal bride more...
  •   Sister Sodom
      Jan 16, 2017
    Sodom is always associated with wicked ''men''. But here God calls her as 'Sister Sodom!' more...
  •   Women,Leaven and Heaven!
      Sep 30, 2016
    Women,Leaven and Heaven! 'The Kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened ' ,said Jesus (Mt 13:33). more...
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 Youth

  •   A Teenagers Story
      Oct 04, 2017
    In the Bible we read about many teenagers. One such is David. When we are introduced to him, he is probably fifteen or sixteen, trying his more...
  •   Why Not Wait ?
      Oct 21, 2016
    It was a whirlwind romance - all moon-beams and star dust; until one day in a moment of madness, they succumbed to each other?s charms. That was the last cruise of their love boat. The world seemed to crash around her when she fo more...
  •   May Days are Gay Days!
      Oct 19, 2016
    Vacation wind is blowing and the air is heavy with the fragrance of holiday. With the exams behind you it?s time to rest, relax and recoup. Holiday is an oasis in the harsh and fiery deserts of modern existence more...
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 General

  •   Foliage or Fruits?
      May 10, 2020
    God brought Israel from Egypt to the land of Canaan where they flourished. But when they picked up the idolatrous practices of the neighbouring nations, God in His vexation drove them out of the land more...
  •   The Root of the Matter
      Apr 05, 2020
    The Root of the Matter more...
  •   WAKE UP!
      Mar 28, 2020
    WAKE UP! more...
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  Address for Correspondence Contributions

Dr. Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
 +91 9843511943
  lilianstanley@gmail.com

Blessing Youth Mission

Blessing Youth Mission
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Vellore 632006, India
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To buy books written by Dr. Lilian Stanley, kindly reach to us in the follwing address

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Chintadripet,
Chennai 600 002, India.
 +91-44-28450411
  blc@bymonline.org

 Daily Devotional for Women (Tamil)

  •   December 2 Myths women believe
      Dec 02, 2020
    Myths women believe more...
  •   December 1 Myths women believe
      Dec 01, 2020
    Myths women believe more...
  •   November 30 Let me out, Let me out!
      Nov 30, 2020
    Let me out, Let me out! more...
  • Click here for more 

 Daily Devotional for Women (English)

  •   367. December 31 Golden Girl
      Dec 31, 2019
    Now the Golden Girl has climbed from her state, step by step, to the right hand of the King. She is now the bride and the queen. Let?s see the blessings of the right hand of God more...
  •   366. December 30 Golden Girl
      Dec 30, 2019
    The enemy has all the gold but God will give it to us more...
  •   365. December 29 Golden Girl
      Dec 29, 2019
    Your faith is costlier than gold more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 4

  •   051. Blessed Accident
      Feb 21, 2018
    A sailor wanted to go round the world in a boat and set up a record. Sadly, a storm lashed his boat and it broke to pieces. The sailor swam and reached a small uninhabited island. He ate wild fruits and roots and survived. He made a more...
  •   052. Offense
      Feb 21, 2018
    An elaborate feast was arranged for all the palace staff on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth?s birthday. It was a grand affair. The table was loaded with a variety of dishes. Everybody enjoyed the feast and sat down for dessert. In the meanwhile the table more...
  •   053. Great and Small
      Feb 21, 2018
    A small zero collided with a big zero. ?Don?t you have any sense? Don?t you know I am much bigger than you?? asked the big zero; ?You must be ashamed of yourself.? more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 3

  •   094 Ant and Worm
      Jun 01, 2016
    An ant was majestically walking along a forest. She saw a worm crawling. The ant told the worm: ?Look at me. I am so brisk and smart. You should be faster and dress up beautifully. You look ugly.? Despising the worm the ant moved along. more...
  •   095 Diligence Pays
      Jun 01, 2016
    Ragu was very jealous of the humble minister, Ra more...
  •   096 Poor Minister
      Jun 01, 2016
    A poor minister of God used to go to a rich businessman asking for contribution for the work he was doing in villages. The rich man would give excuses and ask hi more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 2

  •   001 The Modern Prodigal
      Jul 11, 2013
    The Modern Prodigal more...
  •   002 Lower One Foot, Lord!
      Jul 11, 2013
    Lower One Foot, Lord! more...
  •   003 Beautiful Cheques
      Jul 11, 2013
    Beautiful Cheques more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories For Little Hearts

  •   Introduction
      Jun 06, 2013
    Story Behind The Stories more...
  •   001. Is GOD For Real
      Jun 05, 2013
    There were two scientists. One was a believer in the true God and another was an aetheist more...
  •   002.The Language of Love!
      Jun 05, 2013
    A circus was running in town, and crowds elbowed each other to buy tickets. One day an unusual incident happened more...
  • Click here for more 

 Sweet Sixteen

  •   019 - Mala the Great!
      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Dec 1988 Dear Aunty, It?s been 2 months since we were in touch. I?m saturated with ?news? to give you and nearly bursting with curiosity to hear what?s been happening at your end. The last letter you wrote to me was an eye-opener. To more...
  •   020 - The Rainbow
      Jun 25, 2015
    On the day she arrived, she was at my doorstep! ?Hi aunty? ?Oh Mala, how are you?? She shook my hand so long and hard that it ached, and planted a kiss on my cheek - so unusual of her. ?Why didn?t you write aunty?? ?Oh, I knew you?d be coming soon. So more...
  •   021 - What to Do?
      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Jan 1989 Dear Aunty, Christmas holidays were great fun. It was lovely getting in touch with friends and relatives. On New Year?s Day I gleaned thro? my diary- There was so much to thank God for! My friend Esther is in Rajasthan. She wrote asking for g more...
  • Click here for more 

 Family

  •   Creepers Without Support
      Sep 30, 2016
    Creepers Without Support The Bible mentions ?pure religion? only once. ?Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unspotted from the world? (Js 1:2 more...
  •   Mothers,Be Mothers!
      Sep 30, 2016
    Mothers,Be Mothers! In the first chapter of Proverbs we meet the dynamic personality called mother. She is presented not as a wobbly- footed weakling but as one who passes the law. Even inside the home she does not appear as a second class citizen, ra more...
  •   The Mother-in-laws Son!
      Sep 17, 2016
    Many a wife would introduce her mate as her mother-in-law?s son, rather than as her husband. Nearly 80% of Indian husbands continue to be (their mother?s) sons. According to a recent statistics, not less than 10% of suicides in India are due to the proble more...
  • Click here for more 

 Ministry

  •   I am a Missionary!
      Aug 14, 2018
    1. I am a missionary and so I work for God and not for an organisation. Though I am under the discipline of an organisation, whatever I do, I do with the fear of God. God is my Master and so I subject myself to the leaders. I quell any rebellious spirit t more...
  •   Sewer turned Sower!
      Mar 13, 2017
    To understand John chapter 4, we must first understand about the Samaritans. Samaria was between Judea and Galilee so much so any Jew travelling from Galilee to Judea or Judea to Galilee needed to go through it. Many Jews, because of the aversion they ha more...
  •   Afraid of Iron Chariots?
      Jun 29, 2016
    Afraid of Iron Chariots? more...
  • Click here for more 

 Women

  •   Golden Girl
      Aug 27, 2018
    As India basks in the glory of the golden girls who kissed their gold medals in the 2018 Asian Games, let us meditate upon the Golden Girl who glitters in the Scriptures. The Psalmist profiles her in his 45th Psalm: ?At Your right hand is the royal bride more...
  •   Sister Sodom
      Jan 16, 2017
    Sodom is always associated with wicked ''men''. But here God calls her as 'Sister Sodom!' more...
  •   Women,Leaven and Heaven!
      Sep 30, 2016
    Women,Leaven and Heaven! 'The Kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened ' ,said Jesus (Mt 13:33). more...
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Creepers Without Support

The  Bible  mentions  “pure  religion”  only once.  “Religion  that  God  our  Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (Js 1:27). Of these two components of pure religion there is much talk about the latter but a convenient negligence of the former. But God repeatedly alerts His people to be extra-sensitive to widows.

 

“Do not take advantage of the widow.. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your  wives  will become  widows and  your children  fatherless,”  said  the Lord  (Ex

22:22). One of the reasons why Israel went into captivity was that they did not care for their widows. The prophets warned them even before their doom (Jer 7:6,7; 22:3,4).

 

The apostles specifically taught about the ministry to the widows (1 Tim 5:3-16). They spoke about the responsibility of individuals, of the church and of the widows themselves.

 

1. The Responsibility of Individuals

 

First of all we are exhorted to respect widows. “Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need” (1 Tim 5:3). Greet them respectfully, whether rich or poor. Listen to what they have to tell you. Find out if you can help them in some way—and you have done a tremendous ministry for the day even before giving the help they asked for.

 

By  the  term  “really  widows”  (NKJV)  Paul  meant  the  godly  ones  who  were destitute. Never despise them. If you have such a neighbour, send some cookies or a birthday gift and invite her for some special occasions in your home and make her feel wanted. They are missing out a lot of good things in life. “Visiting widows in their trouble” means arranging for their government aid, walking to the offices or banks to get their papers signed and moved, to take them to the doctor or visit them in the hospital, helping their children and such things. They are entitled to a portion of our income. If we give them their due, God will bless “all” the work of our hands (Dt

24:19,20,21).

 

The Patriarch Job assured a dying man that he would take care of his wife. The man blessed Job as he departed from this earth. Job caused the widow to forget her sorrow and sing for joy (Job 29:13). He never took advantage of the lone woman, but was her spiritual guide. She never had to wait for her provisions (see Job 31:9-18).

 

Don’t blame your daughter-in-law for your son’s death and throw her out. What if it happens to your daughter? Don’t ill-treat your mother-in-law or grandmother who are widows. They loved and cared for you once. Now it is your opportunity to repay. Most prefer to live with the children. It hurts when they are sent to old age homes. But

 

the modern generation looks upon them as a burden. Children grow healthier with loved ones around them. It only needs a little wisdom to adjust to them.

 

Give her freedom in the house, to go out, or bring in her friends for tea. Encourage her. If you are living overseas, at least give her a holiday abroad. “If a widow has children  or grandchildren,  these should  learn  first of all to put their  religion  into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God... Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially  for  their  own  household  has  denied  the  faith  and  is  worse  than  an unbeliever,” (1 Tim 5:4,8).

 

While caring for the widow don’t have an ulterior motive of inheriting her property. Oh, what pain it is for parents to know children care for them only for their money! God is quick to witness against those  who exploit widows (Mal 3:5). He pronounced “woe”  on  those  who  preyed  on  widows  (Isa  10:1,2).  Jesus  pronounced  woe  on religious leaders who devoured widows’ houses (Mt 23:14).

 

A husband must transfer a considerable sum of money or property to his wife’s name before he even starts thinking about his death. In case of his unexpected death she should not be at the mercy of the children or relatives. Since many widows are duped, he should also let her know what he has in her name.

 

2. The Responsibility of the Church

 

The tithes and freewill offerings  in the Old Testament were also meant for the widows that they might “rejoice” during the festivities (Dt 14:28,29; 16:10-14). In the New  Testament  Church  a  daily  distribution  system  to  the  widows  through    the deacons was  practised (Acts 6:1). Women disciples also provided and cared for them (9:36,39). Subsequently Paul laid down specific instructions for the care of widows in the administrative context of the church (1 Tim 5:9,10). The younger widows were advised to marry (v14).

 

The church from its income must provide for the poor widows and extricate them from decent begging. Personal care must be given to their children and other needs. The congregation must be taught to show tangible concern towards their widowed relatives and not hoard money for five generations.

 

3. The Responsibility of the Widow

 

When you lose your husband all of a sudden, you find yourself alone and cold in a crowded world. Your own warm familiar world has crumbled to dust. Problems start springing out like genies from a bottle. But don’t let the tragedy fossilize you. Tackle problems one by one as they present themselves. Make God the oasis of the fiery desert of your future. “The widow who is really in need, and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues to pray and to ask God for help night and day ” (1 Tim

5:5).

 

Anna did just that. “... and then she was a widow until she was eightyfour. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying” (Lk 2:36-38). Fifty years or more of widowhood! Yet no complaints. “She gave thanks to the Lord” (v38). It is up to you to go on appreciating the gift of life and doing the best you can

 

with it. Plan your future. If you can lead an independent life, good. If your children willingly take care of you, accept it. That needs some adjustments, but at least you can escape the doldrums.  Be a blessing and help to your children.  It will be good to distribute your stay with each. That way your presence will be better relished and the relationship smoother. No doubt it is hard life. But God says, “Let widows depend on Me” (Jer 49:11).

 

Don’t cling on to your son or daughter. Mingle with people of your age. You might have longed for times to quietly sit down and read or write without worrying about the next meal. Now’s your time! Be active.

 

Paul warns widows against idleness (1 Tim 5:13). Misfortune destroys some but motivates  others.  My  widowed  mother-in-law  was  desperately  in  love  with  my husband. She struggled for five years and one fine morning made a beautiful decision. She began collecting money for missionary work. Fresh breeze started blowing into her life. Then she began counselling the families she visited. Then she took courage to reach out to a nearby village. In the next five years a little congregation sprang up there. When she died, she was a Dorcas, except that we could not resurrect her. Such was  the  crowd  of  mourners.  Two  young  people  from  that  village  are  today missionaries with us. “Enlarge ... stretch out ... lengthen ... expand ... nations!” (Isa

54:1-3). Don’t lose these blessings by your idleness and timidity.

 

Your natural tendency is to save every mite for your future. But God’s laws are paradoxical. He did not send Elijah to a rich family with a double bedroom apartment. He sent him to a widow in Sidon who was about to eat the last morsel with her son and die. She gave out of her poverty and her flour and oil received a divine touch. How sadly the widows  of Israel  missed  the visitation  of the Lord! (Lk 4:24-26). Writing about widows Paul said, “The widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives” (1 Tim 5:6). But here we find a widow’s son living after death! What an irony! (1 Ki 17:17-23).

 

Worry, fear, insecurity, tears, disappointments, depression and frustration may have become part of your life. But God says, “Do not be afraid ... For your Maker is your husband. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit  ...  with deep  compassion  I will bring  you  back..  Though  the mountains  be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken ... O you afflicted, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones with colourful gems ... sapphires ... rubies ... crystals ... precious stones” (Isa 54:4-12). Isaiah 54 is written for you. Read it and reread it. He protects you (14,15). He defends you (Psa 68:5). He establishes your border (Prov 15:25). He will perform miracles for you, because He has compassion on you (2 Ki 4:1-7; Lk 7:13).

 

“All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace” (Isa

54:13). King Solomon sent and called Hiram out of Tyre for the work of the temple. “He was a widow’s son ... He was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill to do all kinds of bronze work” (1 Ki 7:13-21). Blessed widow!

 

Both in the church and society the lot of young widows is  more difficult. Wives suspect you. Men take advantage of you. Eyebrows will be raised even at your normal

 

friendship with men. Therefore you should be all the more careful to lead a blameless life (1 Tim 5:7).

If loneliness is killing you, you need the companionship of a man, a father for your children, if you need a man’s help at home for your own safety or if perchance you fall in love with a suitable man who loves you and will care for your children, then please go ahead and marry (1 Cor 7:9; Rom 7:2,3). There is nothing to feel guilty about it. That in no way reduces your love or fidelity to your husband who is no more. Society or your own family may look down upon you. Face it. Even if God gives a gift the priest will not pass it on, says a Tamil proverb. We are entombed in a rigid society which will not permit even what the Bible permits.

 

There  are many distorted  notions  in  a land  like  India  where  women  try to be faithful to their dead husbands. You don’t have the dilemma of facing two husbands in heaven if you remarry! You have not understood the Scriptures. For in heaven we will be like the angels of God (Mt 22:29). In fact, after writing in the first letter to the Corinthians that the widows may choose to remain single (1 Cor 7:8,40), after seeing some real life serials, Paul strongly recommends that they marry. “I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage the home, and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander” (1 Tim 5:14). “A woman is bound  to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord” (1 Cor 7:39). So dress well and look good. Don’t neglect your appearance.

 

We need Naomis for those who are silently shedding tears in our country. Grown up children should help the mother in this regard. The church must take the first step to get young widows married. Whenever I distribute flowers on a happy occasion my heart is inflamed at the thought that I am not expected to give to widows. Some even consider the very mention of the word “widow” as inauspicious. Some do not allow widows to welcome a new couple. Have we really turned from idols to the living God? Let us break these heart-breaking traditions. Don’t single them out while distributing flowers. Get them to sit in the front row in weddings. Ask them to bless the new couple.

 

Child marriage is still very much in vogue in India. When the husband, who may be

6 years or 16 years dies, the girl remains a widow all her life. Heartlessness! Some are kept under lock and  key.  Others  turn prostitutes.  Who  is to be blamed? It is we Christians who have closed our eyes to the shackled millions. Our bread and butter is more important to us than somebody’s soul.

 

“Plead for the widow,” says the Lord (Isa 1:17). Give them moral support. Pandita Ramabai was a widow under whose wings hundreds of ill-treated widows took shelter and thrived. Raise your voice against Sati (The practice of burning the wife in the husband’s pyre). Though abolished by the efforts of men like William Carey it is propping up its monstrous head again. We are the little Davids to fling the pebbles of truth on these heinous practices. Let’s do all that’s possible to please the God of the widows!

 

A Tamil poet describes the King Pari who saw a jasmine creeper without a support to climb. He was so moved with pity that he left his chariot for the creeper to climb on

 

and walked to his palace. Such is our culture. What do we do for the so many creepers around us without support?

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Dr. Lilian Stanley
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