There are few things more painful than the loss of a spouse or a loved one. And it is easy to start going into free-fall when that happens, both in our lives and in our faith.
That’s apparently what was happening with some of the younger widows in the Ephesian church.
Some in losing their husbands, looked for solace in another man, and unfortunately, turned for that comfort to unbelievers. But by marrying unbelievers, they turned from their faith and started worshiping the false gods their new husbands worshiped. (11-12)
Others, in receiving financial support from the church, saw no further need to do anything productive with their lives. Rather, they became idlers, gossips and busybodies. (13)
For these reasons Paul told Timothy not to put younger widows on the church’s financial support list. Rather he encouraged them to get married once again (to believers — See I Corinthians 7:39), have children, and manage their households.
What does this have to do with us today? It sounds perhaps a little chauvinistic, that a woman’s only possible purpose in her life is found in her family. But if you look at I Corinthians 7 where the widows weren’t falling into these traps of sin these Ephesian women were, Paul told them it would be great if they remained single so that they could serve the Lord more effectively. (I Corinthians 7:39-40)
I think the main thing Paul wanted more than anything else for these younger widows in Ephesus was to not let their grief take control of their lives. To not let their grief become a reason for making foolish decisions, abandoning their faith, or wasting the remainder of their lives.
Rather, he was telling them, “Despite your grief, you still have your whole life ahead of you. God still has good things for you. Don’t lose sight of that by making foolish decisions that will pull you away from God. And don’t waste your life. Fulfill the purposes God has created you for.”
And though Paul was talking to the younger widows, he probably felt the same way concerning the older ones. That’s why he told the church to support only those widows who were known for their good deeds. The church was to have nothing to do with widows who looked only to themselves and lived for themselves. Rather, the church was to care only for widows who remembered that God still had purpose for their lives despite their grief, and who lived that way.
How about you? Are you letting your grief turn you inward, thinking only of yourself? Are you letting your grief cloud your decision-making, doing things that are foolish? Or are you letting your grief pull you away from God?
Remember that God loves you. He still has a plan for you whether you’re young or old. So though you may grieve, keep your eyes on Jesus. Remember that he still has a purpose for you. Ask him to show you that purpose. Walk hand in hand with him each day. And the God of all comfort and peace will be with you and heal you.