Let Not the Church Be Charged

Walking with Elderly Woman

If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed” (1 Timothy 5:16, KJV).

This verse comes at the end of a section dealing with the care of certain widows. Paul had given Timothy instructions about which widows were to receive continual, ongoing support from the local church and which ones were not. In the case of widows who had family to care for them, the church was not to be charged with their care.

The idea of the church not being charged with something can certainly extend in application beyond just the care of certain widows.

God has given the local church plenty of work to do without men trying to throw additional tasks and obligations upon it. The local church has been commissioned with the works of evangelism (1 Timothy 3:15; Acts 13:1-3) and edification (Ephesians 4:11-16). It can also provide temporary benevolence in certain situations to Christians (Acts 11:29; Romans 15:26), and continual benevolence to widows indeed as Paul discussed in 1 Timothy 5.

However, many feel that it would be good to charge the church with other works – extending benevolence to non-Christians, providing recreation and common meals, offering services like secular education and daycare. The list could go on and on. The thing is, none of these are wrong in themselves. The problem is that God has not given them as responsibilities for the church.

Local churches need to focus their time, energies, and resources on the tasks that God has given – evangelism, edification, and limited benevolence. There is far too much work to do in these areas for us to burden the church with anything else. We need to leave all the other “good works” to individuals and the institutions of men.

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