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Connect the Testaments

May 19: Outline for Honor
1 Chronicles 7:1–40; 1 Timothy 5:1–9; Psalm 78:30–52
In most Western cultures today, we’ve lost our connection with the elderly. With one grandparent living halfway across the country and the others having died before I was born, I wasn’t around older people until I met my wife and her family. Unlike me, my wife had the privilege of knowing her great-grandparents. She has a strong sense of tradition and respect for the elderly, as well as a deep desire to help them in all aspects of life, and she has been able to teach me to do the same. Paul is dealing with a similar experience in his first letter to Timothy.
Paul says to Timothy, “Do not rebuke an older man but appeal to him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity. Honor widows who are truly widows” (1 Tim 5:1–3). By “honor,” Paul means showing a deep sense of concern and an earnest, regular desire to help them financially and with their daily needs. What Paul says is revolutionary for his time. It wasn’t that the elderly were disrespected culturally, but they weren’t sought out as teachers and people to help. Paul commanded not just equality in this scenario, but assistance and compassion. Widows, who were of the lowest rank of society, were to be loved as equals. And older men, at the higher rank, were to be respected for their understanding.
We don’t make these connections as readily in Western society. Instead, we see someone’s need as something to pray for, not to act on. And we see older men’s perspectives as simply “old guard” rather than a legal opinion we should take into consideration. Paul doesn’t say older people are always right, just as our fathers are not always good, but he does encourage Timothy to show them the respect they deserve “as a father.” Paul’s outline for the honor was as powerful then as it is now.
How can you make the elderly and widowed a part of your life and church community?
John D. Barry


 Barry, John D., and Rebecca Kruyswijk. Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.

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