Monday, April 23, 2012

Faithless Unbeliever


Does that word conjure up any images for you? It does for me, and they're scary. I wondered why that was. How could a simple seven-letter word make me bristle with fear?

After all, I don't even know what an infidel looks like.

Later that night, as I took off my makeup in front of the mirror, the eyes of the infidel looked back at me.

Earlier that morning, I was chasing scripture around in the Bible, cross referencing one verse with another and came to 1 Timothy 5, which is Paul's advice to Timothy regarding widows, elders and slaves. In fact, the subtitle in my Bible (Life Application Study Bible, NIV) says, "Instructions for leaders."

So, I'm reading about how Paul directs Timothy to deal with these differing groups of people and this scripture jumps out at me:

"If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."   1 Tim 5:8

That word "unbeliever" is rendered "infidel" in the KJV and is used only twice; the other instance is 2 Corinthians 6:15. It's also linked to the word "faithless."

The problem is that there are widows in the community who aren't being cared for. Paul tells Timothy to give help to those that actually are in need, but if she has family of some kind, her care is to be provided for by them. "But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God." (emphasis mine)

I thought of my own elderly grandmothers, both sick and suffering with various ailments. They are, thank God, being cared for by their children right now, but if they weren't, would I be willing to step in? I live far away. What could I do? What would I do? Am I providing now? And what does providing mean anyway?

I send cards and letters and make phone calls and try to visit when I can but...

In order to help myself answer the question, I went to my concordance and looked up some key words:

Provide - Greek word: proneo - to provide for, care for, to consider, have regard for.

Denied - Greek word: arneomai - to deny, disown, renounce, repudiate

Worse - Greek word: cheiron - worse, more severe than.

Unbeliever - Greek word: apistos - lacking in trust, outsider, one who does not believe the Gospel.

If immediate family goes all the way down the line to the grandparents, I've got some repenting and preparing to do. If my husband and I are responsible for training our children to be Godly, I've got much training to do.

If you're married like I am, this extends to our in-laws and our family responsibility is even greater.

Yikes! Now I know why I felt fear.

Caring for our family members is so important to God that while hanging on the cross, Jesus entrusted John with the task, and he took her into his own home. (John 19:25-28)

Thank you God, for always equipping us to live out our lives of faith. May we be like Jesus in our love and provision for our families and be called faithful by you. Amen.

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