Here we are going to try something a bit unusual and perhaps a bit screwy. We will combine two posts into one. As the title suggests, we will make this part 2 for the following posts:
- HOW A POOR WIDOW ANSWERED HER CALLING — PART 1
- GOVERNMENT-GIVEN RIGHTS VERSUS GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS — PART 1
Why I Wrote This
Part of the inspiration for this post comes from I collect gentlemen… by insanitybytes22. I am hardly what anyone would describe as a great student of history, but I do not think it requires any profound knowledge history to observe that the attitude of men and women towards each other differs distinctly from the attitude men and women had towards each other two thousand years ago. What woman would have admitted collecting gentlemen back then?
We don’t know when Jesus’ father, Joseph, died, but just before Jesus died on the cross He arranged for his mother’s care.
John 19:25-27 New King James Version (NKJV)
Behold Your Mother
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
Jesus’ concerned for women, however extended beyond the care of His mother. Consider three examples.
- Before Jesus died on the cross, He showed His concern for a widow whose only son had died by raising the young man from the dead (see Luke 7:11-17).
- Luke 10:38-42 describes Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, learning from Him as a disciple. In that patriarchal society, that was just not done. Therefore, when Martha complained Mary was not helping her to prepare the dinner, Martha must have been surprised by Jesus’ mild rebuke.
- Jesus’ disciples would latter work with women to spread the Gospel. John 4 tells us how Jesus set the example. As Jesus rested at a well in a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, Jesus spoke to a woman of Samaria. Because He spoke to a Samaritan and a woman, He shocked His disciples. Perhaps the woman had also engaged in some sexual immorality. Nevertheless, with her help Jesus convinced many of the Samaritans of that city to believe in Him because they believed her.
Because Jesus cared for women and children, He convinced His disciples that God cares about everyone, including even the most desperate women and children.
The word “widow” is fairly common in the Bible. Depending upon the translation, the word “widow” can be found between 80 and 130 times. Why the concern with widows. Widows were the weakest members of the societies of ancient time. Without a man or a family willing to support them, women were extremely vulnerable. For example, when Jesus wanted to demonstrate the power of perseverance in prayer, He chose a persistent widow (see Luke 18:1-8). That determined widow would not quit hounding a judge until he gave her justice.
Just by dropping a few mites into the temple treasury, a poor widow (see HOW A POOR WIDOW ANSWERED HER CALLING — PART 1) became part of a legacy of which she could not have conceived. With her example she made Ruth’s faith and courage, Ruth of the Book of Ruth, real to Jesus’ disciples. She helped them to understand that it isn’t grand and dramatic acts that matter most. The warrior may seem brave and actually be quite brave, but what changes people for the better are simple acts of love, faith, and courage, something even a child might do, but sometimes we must look carefully for acts of love, faith, and courage to see them.
What is the first mention of organized and systematic Christian charity following Pentecost? Some would pick Acts 2:40-47, when some people chose to give all their earthly goods to the new church. However, that was more spontaneous than organized. Consider the difference.
Acts 6:1-7 New King James Version (NKJV)
Seven Chosen to Serve
6 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists,[a] because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.
7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
So it was that Christians started their first organized charity, a ministry to aid widows. In fact, when the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy (1 Timothy 5:3-16), the pastor of the church in Ephesus as to how the Christians should provide for widows, he described it as honoring true widows. He intended this charity, given by people who could barely provide for themselves, to be given to women who had led commendable lives and found themselves in desperate straights in their old age.
As the Apostle James made clear, God does have certain expectations.
James 1:27 New King James Version (NKJV)
27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
To Be Continued
- The Neglected History of Women in the Early Church (www.christianitytoday.com): Why is the large role women played in the early church neglected? The article does not say, but I suppose it has something to do with the fact that some people want to believe Christianity is against women’s rights.
- Women in Church history (en.wikipedia.org): This article starts with the New Testament and continues through to today.
- Martha (en.wikipedia.org): This article focuses on Martha and her relationship with Jesus.
- What should we learn from the woman at the well? (www.gotquestions.org): Here we have what is perhaps the traditional exposition on the woman at the well. Is it wrong? No, but there is more depth to the Bible than we know.