Care for the Vulnerable

God cares for vulnerable people and he wants humans to do the same. God spoke through Isaiah and condemned practices that harmed defenseless people.

Woe to those who make iniquitous decrees,
who write oppressive statutes,

To turn aside the needy from justice
and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
to make widows their spoil
and to plunder orphans!
(Isaiah 10.1-2)

From its very inception, the church has been at the forefront of caring for those in need.

Widows were among the most vulnerable in the first century. In Paul’s longest discussion about widows, he provided directions to the church about their care.

First on his agenda was the need to differentiate between widows who had no support and those who had a family to help.

Honor widows who are really widows. If a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents, for this is pleasing in God’s sight (1 Timothy 5.3-4).

Jesus condemned a practice that used religious activity that allowed families to not care for widows. He said, “[You are] nullifying the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on” (Mark 7.13).

Paul made it clear that care for family vulnerable family members was imperative.

And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5.8).

Real Widows

Jesus told a parable about a widow, who was persistent in her appeal for justice.

He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people.

“In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my accuser.’

“For a while he refused, but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone,

“Yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming’” (Luke 18.2-5).

Jesus used the illustration of a widow to impress the value of prayer upon his listeners.

When we have no one to turn to for help, we can always turn to the Lord.

Picking up the theme of prayer and human need, Paul wrote:

The real widow, left alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day (1 Timothy 5.5).

Anna was a widow who blessed the baby, Jesus. She is an outstanding example of the kind of woman Paul described.

She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four.

She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day (Luke 2.36-37).

There is much we can learn from these exemplary women.

(1) That God cares for the vulnerable is a consistent message of the Bible.

No one escapes God’s love. The world’s system may ignore and take advantage of people, but this is not the case with God.

(2) Praying women have a special place in God’s purposes for the world.

Anna, a praying woman, was given the privilege of holding in her arms the “Word who had been made flesh” (John 1.14).

Anna is one among a long line of praying women who live on the “holy ground” of single-minded devotion to the Lord.

They are the “pure in heart” who are blessed to “see God” (Matthew 5.8).

(3) Widows represent the vulnerable, who are loved by God and cared for by the church.

Let’s meditate on the words of the Lord’s brother.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1.27)

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I talk about this passage today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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