Who Is My Family?

One topic I’ve touched on before is the concept of the church as a family. Today I’m going to expand that thinking just a little bit as we explore what the church says about the family.
In 1 Timothy 5, Paul expands upon this idea, starting in verse 1, “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.” Plenty of things have been written about that last part, “in all purity,” but not as much has been written about the rest of those two verses. My Bible (ESV) describes this section as “Instructions for the Church.” We can already see the family ties beginning to connect in the church as we are to treat everyone in the church as our family. I would even extend this thinking into treating those who are considerably older as grandparents, and those who are considerably younger as grandchildren. I have some people like that in the church I serve now. Godly men and women who have taken me under their wing and give me a hug every time they see me. I’m so grateful for their influence in the church and my life.
So then if the church is to be one big family, what is the purpose of your immediate family? Paul has some very strong words to say about your immediate family in verse 8, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Wow! Worse than an unbeliever! Paul clearly expects people to provide for their families. I’ve heard stories of pastors who have had the children of older people in the church come to them and expect the church to help their parents out. I’m sorry, but that’s NOT what the church is called to do! The church is called to help those who have no other family to help them out, as Paul says in verse 4, “if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.” Again, we see immediate family is called to provide for their immediate family. So now, how does the church fit in to that?
Acts 2:42 provides a picture for us of what this should look like, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of break and the prayers.” When your blood family is provided for, then out of the overflow of God’s blessing in your life, use it as an opportunity to help those in the family of the church. Just a few verses later in Acts 2 it says, “They were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” How can you be helping those in your church family as they have needs? This isn’t always physical! I wrote last week about the importance of prayer, and just yesterday had the opportunity to pray with a dear friend at church who is today having surgery. How can we spiritually, physically and emotionally care for both our family through blood and our family through water.
“It’s been said that blood is thicker than water,
But in the church, the opposite is true
Water is thicker than blood.”
My Dad

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