Monday, February 09, 2015

A Discussion of 1 Timothy 5

Today I am sharing the thoughts of my heart regarding the advantages of women guarding the home and attending to the business at home. The reason for thinking about this is a recent ladies Bible class where one of the ladies observed from the chapter we were reading, 1 Timothy 5:1-25, that Christian women at home were expected to be busy. They were not to just be home, but to have a spiritual purpose in being home: that of doing right and doing good. 

Please note that I have enabled a scripture pop-up so that you can  touch the verse reference and see what it says instantly.

We discussed the fact that even if a homemaker is not always busy, she needs to be wise in her use of time at home. This is a mind-set and a thought process, more than following a set of thou-shalts and thou-shalt-nots. This passage in the Bible does have some "thou-shalt-nots" but they contain general principles for Christian conduct. These principles involve creating a good reputation for the Word of God.  

The phrase: "...give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully" means to behave in a way that shows your seriousness about guiding the home; that you want to do your best and do whatever you can to prove that God's word is right and that following it is fruitful. Adversaries will be watching with a critical eye to see if you live your beliefs.

The young preacher, Timothy, was told to be an example to the believers (1 Timothy 4:12) and to make sure his spiritual character was would be apparent to everyone (1 Timothy 4:15).  This can apply to the lady at home because people will become aware of the way she lives, and she will be known for her good work in the home.  It may not seem like anyone notices, but eventually her progress will become apparent to others.

While there has always been a prevailing attitude that "what I do is my own business and I do not care what others think of it," it is just the reverse when it comes to a woman who wants to be doing her duty at home. The general belief that people should mind their own business is suddenly abandoned by the rest of the world when a woman stays home.  Now it is all their business as they criticize and pressure her to leave that post. This is why it is doubly important to, like Paul told Timothy, "make your progress evident to all." (1 Timothy 4:15). That is why a lady at home needs not just to be a good manager and housekeeper but to have a countenance of contentment and the conduct of a confident worker.  The world is watching her with an ever critical eye. Her influence is keenly felt in many places, and that is why there may be critical remarks directed at her. 

While no one likes to think negatively, there is a verse which must be considered in regard to the wrong way to live: In the context of what women the local congregation can offer financial assistance, 1 Timothy 5 exhorts the church to refuse such aid to the younger women (some translations say "younger widows" instead of "younger women") because they  need to marry, have children, and guide the house (1 Timothy 5:14). Otherwise, they will tend to: " idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also, and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not." 1 Timothy 5:13) In this verse there are several things we need to consider:

Wandering from house to house
speaking of things they ought not

Idleness is not the same thing as resting on the couch or standing idly looking out the window. The kind of idleness in this passage refers to something more than just not doing anything. It means to be unfruitful and unproductive, giving room for idle, silly talk, or behavior.  Idleness is quite menacing in the home and the church because the idle person will eventually become a tattler or a busy-body. The warning here is that those who learn to be idle will then be "wandering about from house to house." One thing leads to the next, and that is why down-time and relaxation need to be carefully regulated so that they are not used in a vicious way.

Wandering from house to house can be dangerous when it involves meddling with church members. Such a practice can divide the church and create "sides". Women of all ages need to be careful and not speak of things that people did not give them permission to spread.

Tattlers are people who tell one person what another person said or did, which in itself may not seem too harmful. However a tattler cannot tell the entire story. Often she will twist it or leave out certain things in order to make another person seem terrible. The purpose of doing this is to make others hate someone.  This is not the same thing as warning someone to avoid getting too involved with a busy-body or a trouble-maker. It is important to teach the younger women to be careful of certain people who can cause trouble in their lives. Should we tattle on the tattlers?  If we want them to stop, we should curb the amount of words we say to them and stop the flow of personal information to them, and tell others to use the same tactic.  

Now on to the word "busy body."  This is one thing the ladies discussed at length.  It does not necessarily mean it is wrong to point out the fault of being a busy-body, as some would say. There are those who think that you cannot even point out a sin because then you would be a busy-body yourself, but this is a way of twisting the principle to keep the truth from coming to light. 

If you are teaching children, you will need to teach them the difference between good character and bad character.  You can see how the Bible does it in many places, and where real people were described as having good or bad characteristics.  However it is not necessary to embarrass a guest or a friend by correcting her. Sometimes people are not maliciously trying to be tattlers or busy-bodies. We should be careful not to rush to judgement, but we should also not be naively allow the bad quality of being a busy-body to thrive in the home.

 A busy body is someone who is annoyingly pushing others around and concerning herself with what another person is doing, almost to an obsession.  Often she will focus on one woman who has influence and talk about every move she makes and every word she speaks until she gets others to hate her. Busy-bodies sometimes cannot be corrected and will create havoc among the other ladies. 

 The best thing to do with a busy body is to be too busy at home to give time to her. Sometimes busybodies come into a Christian woman's home on the pretext of wanting to visit the church members and to encourage them, but will slyly be collecting any information she can twist and spread against the person. It is certainly right and good to warn others of the busy-body and her ways. 

 Some busy-bodies "run their course" in a peculiar way: they will become good friends with another woman until they have bled every piece of personal information from her that they can, and when they get enough they will spread it around in a negative way to make others think less of of the woman. Then they will quit speaking to this once close friend and move on to their next target.  

Busy-bodies become increasingly clever at operating their schemes. In order to avoid getting trapped by a busy-body, it is best to limit your conversation with her and to be extremely careful about what you say. She can twist something as benign as your "Good Morning" into a tall tale designed to discredit you. Here is a poem that has some good advice:

    If you your lips would keep from slips,
        Five things observe with care:
    Of whom you speak, to whom you speak,
        And how and when and where.

    If you your ears would save from jeers,
        These things keep meekly hid:
    Myself and I, and mine and my,
        And how I do and did.

This poem has very good advice regarding speaking what is right and good and true, but in observing the rule to be careful what you say, you will protect yourself.  If you constantly talk of yourself, you are going to give out information to a busy-body who will take it and run wild with it, adding to it, exaggerating it, and twisting the meaning. 

As an example of how a busy-body twists the meaning of things, I know of a man who was moving into a new house. Another man who was helping, asked, "Where do you want us to put this couch?"  The new home owner replied, "Ask my wife. She is the boss," and he was then quoted by the tattler as saying, "My wife runs everything without my permission and she is boss over everything."  This is not what the man said. He was using a figure of speech that many men have used for decades, to show deference and respect to the lady of the house.  A tattler does not understand figures of speech or irony and will always spread things in a way to make others think ill of the people they are talking about. 

At last we come to the final of the four negative character qualities: speaking things which they ought not.  What do you think some of these things are?  Should Christian ladies just "be themselves" and talk about every inappropriate thing that comes to their minds, or are there certain distasteful things that we should avoid talking about? 

 Have you ever been in a group of women who were getting carried away with stories about their lives that were "colorful" and private in nature? Have you ever been embarrassed by someone talking about what they thought of your husband or your children? 

 Have you ever cringed at the kind of talk that women indulge in when they are in a group with other women who are encouraging it?  "Speaking what they ought not" is a very broad subject that will have to be dealt with in another post. 

Suffice it to say that women need to be careful about the things they talk about (and so must men!) to see that it is wholesome and edifying, and not sullying. To sully is to soil, to darken, to tarnish (as in tarnishing someone's reputation).

During a preacher's meeting I once attended, some of the preachers expressed dismay at the things their members were writing on facebook and other social media. They were disappointed to see people using this avenue for expressions, jokes, innuendos, descriptions and impure comments. Some people endorsed things on their pages that went against the teachings of the Bible. There were people "speaking of things which they ought not" on these pages. 

There are always those who have never been taught and do not know any better than to "speak of things which they ought not," (1 Timothy 5:13) but a Christian woman needs to be different than the world with her conversation. It is one thing to be ignorant because of lack of training, but it is quite another to be idle in a derogatory way, a tattler a busy body  and to speak things that ought not to be spoken.

I am sure you have a lot to say about these things:

wandering from house to house
Inappropriate talk (speaking of things they ought not.)

The best way to avoid these things is to be busy minding your own business at home.


Anonymous said...

While I enjoy your bright-spot posts with inspiring pictures, I especially like your long meaty articles and this is one I really needed. It explained a lot to me, especially that we must not let tatters and tale bearers reign over us, but it is permissible to teach them and correct them. Sometimes it may be necessary to embarrass them.

12:58 PM

Rachel and Family said...

Thank you so much for this post. I feel ministered to and exhorted.
I am the one that others watch and pressure for details about my life. I realize that in my trying to be transparent, I over-share, and then it is used not in my favor, but instead to be ridiculed. I realize that it is best to live a quiet life and I need to be better on my guard not to get sucked into conversations. If only I've had mature women like you to follow I possible could spare some heartache. At least, it makes me more sensitive not to do it to my leaders or others.

Unknown said...

One of the comments here mentioned "trying to be transparent and over-sharing". I understand what this dear lady means. I have done that too. I think one of the traps of our day and culture is to be "transparent". Yet the Bible always encourages us to lead that meek and quiet life. Using discretion in our sharing. I have over-shared and been way to transparent in the past. Being discreet and private is a blessing and I am so grateful to have good mentors in my life like you Lydia who show us a more excellent way.

Lydia said...

I was just discussing that very thing with someone today in reference to my current post on unfeigned love. Transparent is not the same thing. It is not safe to be transparent about your faults and your personal life because those who plan some evil will throw it up in your face later and use to to hold over you and control you. Just because you do not reveal private thoughts or private matters of your life does not mean you are dishonest. It means you have enough sense to preserve your dignity and protect others from things they do not need to know and will not use the information for the best.