Today's Lectionary Text
1 Timothy 5:1-8
Do not speak harshly to an older man, but speak to him as to a father, to younger men as brothers, to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters—with absolute purity.
Honor widows who are really widows. If a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God’s sight. The real widow, left alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day; but the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give these commands as well, so that they may be above reproach. And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Respecting elders was an important lesson in my house growing up. We lived with my grandmother, and her older brother, my Great-Uncle Walt, came to live with us for a short time when I was very young. Uncle Walt was illiterate, a product of an era in which it was more important for boys to take on manual labor jobs to help feed the family than it was for them to go to school. I just saw him as a gruff, old man who rarely said anything and who smelled kind of funny.
I don’t remember the circumstances now, but I do remember him correcting me one time for something I had done and me telling him boldly to “shut up.” To this day, I don’t know that my grandma ever heard me say it, and I don’t think Uncle Walt ratted me out to her.
But I felt ashamed as soon as I had said it, mostly because my grandma cherished the relationship with her brother so much.
Today’s passage comes from I Timothy, a book that teaches how to cope with situations that arise amid the family of believers. I like this passage, in particular, because it talks about treating people with respect, particularly our elders.
As an adult, I recognize now that Uncle Walt did whatever he could for my grandma. He was poor, but he would bring my grandma vegetables and would do whatever she asked of him.
I now respect a man that I know only from scattered memories from childhood. And I remember the lessons about treating elders and family members my grandma taught me. I don’t know if she ever read I Timothy. But she certainly taught from that book, whether she knew it or not.
– Todd Seifert, director of communications
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious God, thank you for family. Thank you for our elders who have already learned lessons in life from the pathway on which we are traveling. Help us to remember that they are to be treasured and that they have wisdom to share with us all.
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