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Responsible And Caring Relationships

1 Timothy 5:3-4
Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 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. (NIV)

Our old sinful nature is more selfish than we think. But in the family of God we follow Jesus who unselfishly gave His own life to save us, when we could not help ourselves (Romans 5:6-8). If He did that for us, then how much should we do for others, especially those who cannot help themselves? So one of the first tests of our faith in Christ is the way in which we treat our elderly and helpless relatives.
Practically, it is only fair. Our parents sacrificed their time, energy and money to look after us as we grew up: so when they are less able to provide for themselves, we have an obligation to help them. That is a personal debt of honour which we should not ignore. It is also a spiritual priority to care for parents and grandparents, and to do so lovingly. When we do so, God is pleased. If we despise this instruction, God is dishonoured.
The care of elderly relatives can be one of the most testing experiences of our adult lives. Our parents understand this because often they will also have looked after their parents. They know the cost. Some will do everything to avoid being a burden on the family; others will indulge what they see as their right. Nevertheless it is our spiritual duty to administer God’s grace to frail and mortal humanity; it is a very important part of following Jesus. Do read my article on ‘Being a burden’ (www.beaconlight.co.uk/rethink/being-a-burden) to understand more of how God places people in families so that they can honour Him by serving each other.

Dear Lord God. Thank You for loving me, and for sending Jesus to be my Saviour at such great personal cost. Forgive me when I ignore the needs of others, particularly the older members of my own family. Please help me to reconsider how I can fulfil my spiritual responsibilities to them, in caring for them and showing my gratitude for all they have done for me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams