Filed under Biblical Womanhood Good Works
“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
This final phrase—“has devoted herself to every good work”—may appear, at first glance, to be a little vague. Kinda like what happens when I can’t come up with a concluding sentence for one of my posts, so I just tack on something nice-sounding but essentially meaningless.
Not the case here! There is nothing vague about this concluding remark. Paul is making a very clear point. In case we got the idea that we could check off one of each of these good works and qualify as a godly woman, Paul raises the stakes considerably. He says the godly woman is devoted to good works. As one commentary describes it, she is “energetically and diligently giving herself” to this stuff. I can imagine this woman constantly looking and listening, ready to serve upon discovery of the slightest need.
Do you remember the t-shirt that was popular a few years back with the slogan that read, “Life is Tennis (or Basketball or Fishing). Everything else is just details”? Well, here Paul is saying that the godly woman’s outlook is: “Life is being devoted to good works. Everything else is just details.”
Bringing up children, showing hospitality, caring for the afflicted—these aren’t things the godly woman does one time, like a community service requirement. Good works are what she is giving her life, energy, time, and heart to. Good works are what she is all about.
But there is one other word that makes this phrase even more powerful. Yep, it’s that little word “every.” Every, quite simply means every. It doesn’t mean some or most, but every. The godly woman doesn’t limit herself to good works that are easy, or get her the most attention, or are her top favorites. She practices good works of all kinds. And we can safely assume that they aren’t all pleasant.
Not such a vague phrase after all, huh?
I think John Wesley’s well-known quote expands nicely on what Paul is saying here.
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can.”
Cause everything else? It’s just details.