“Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.” 1 Timothy 5:9-10
As we continue our series on good works, you may be wondering why the youngest daughter with only one baby is covering the point about “bringing up children”. I was actually wondering the same thing myself, and so I checked in with Mom for some clarity. I received a most helpful explanation. This “bringing up children” thing is not just for those with biological children. This command found in 1 Timothy applies to ALL women. The Greek word used in this phrase implies cherishing, nurturing, and the giving of personal attention. We do not have to give birth to our own child to fulfill this good work. In fact, several of the commentaries I studied on this passage referenced women taking in orphans. (It was common in that culture for unwanted children to be sold into slavery or abandoned altogether.) This clearly illustrates that this command is applicable beyond caring for one’s own children.
Fast forward to right now. How can we put this good work into practice in our varying seasons of life?
For moms, we have instant application. You are to cherish and nurture those kiddos under your very own roof. But there may be other children God would have you give personal attention to: an un-churched neighborhood kid, or the child of a single parent in your church, or nieces and nephews. Some of you may even be called to take in foster children or adopt an orphan.
If you are a teen or single woman, consider babysitting. For most of my teen and college years I babysat my little brother and four cousins once a week so that my parents and uncle and aunt could get some time alone. These kids are all grown up now and babysitting others, but we share many fond memories of our times together. Beyond babysitting, think about serving in your church’s children’s ministry or even sponsoring a child through a trustworthy mission organization. By volunteering at a local crisis pregnancy center you can help rescue the unwanted children in our culture today.
Finally, for those of you with grown children, may I throw something out to you? How about applying this verse by mentoring some of us young girls who have no idea what we are doing? I would be lost in this motherhood job right now if it wasn’t for my mom and her practical wisdom and care. Whether advising me on scheduling or just holding Caly so that I can nap, she’s still practicing this good work of nurturing children. (Thanks, Mom!)
Do you see the broad application contained in this verse? Nurturing the next generation is an exceedingly important good work that ALL women are called to fulfill. Maybe that’s why it’s first on the list.