I suppose our faith gets no more practical than within our homes. Because while we can hide our true faces from our pastors and fellow church members, we can’t hide them from our family. They see us as we really are. And what we are at home shows what we truly are in our hearts.
I think that’s one thing Paul has in mind as he wrote these instructions to Timothy concerning the care of widows. The church in those days took care of widows within their congregation (We see this in Acts 6, for example).
And Paul tells Timothy,
Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. (3)
But then he adds,
But 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. (4)
The ESV puts it,
…let them first learn to show godliness to their own household.
Godliness is not something we are to merely have when we leave our homes, but something we should have within them. And godliness should not just be shown to people outside our families, but it should be shown especially to people within them.
Paul emphasizes that point in verse 8.
If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (8)
Paul is specifically talking here about providing the material needs of our family members. But godliness doesn’t stop there. It continues in how we treat each other day to day, in our patience, kindness, and love for one another. The godliness we have also shows in the forgiveness and generosity we extend toward one another.
In short, godliness should show in how we treat our family. For if we are unable to show these things to our family, what kind of faith do we really have?
This is not always easy. As I said yesterday, we can choose our friends, but we can’t choose our relatives. And family can grate on us in ways friends can’t because there are natural boundaries between friends, namely, we usually live apart from each other. The boundaries are much thinner with family because we actually live with them. Plus there are obligations we have to family that we don’t have to friends.
But if we are to become godly, it needs to start with how we treat our family, for that is the test of true godliness.
How godly are you?