Tag Archives: widows

Act Like a King

No one actually knows who King Lemuel was.  Some say that he was King of Massa, a northern Arabian nation, but no one knows for sure.  However, what we do know is that his mother (the Queen Mother?) gave him some interesting and good advice.  It is advice that we all can take to heart, especially if we live in a democratic republic, as I do here in the U.S.A.

When people think of Proverbs 31, they tend to think of the “Proverbs 31 woman”.  Not me.  That’s an afterthought.  My thoughts go straight to verses 8 and 9.

“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy,” (ESV).

There are many in our nation–many in the world–who fit this description and we could absolutely exhaust ourselves on causes which often leads to virtue signaling (hey! look at me; I care about this and that and want the entire world to know even though in reality I’m not doing much).  This post isn’t about that at all.  It is however about making sure that we are not ignoring the plight of those who are poor, destitute, or without a voice.

There are more people out there like this than we may realize.  Often I will go on a tangent about something I believe to be an injustice. Abortion is one of those topics, but another is when a parent’s rights over their child, like Alfie Evans, are stripped away. These precious children have no voice, and the voices of Evans’s parents were being ignored. Why not speak up for their rights? I have the ability. I have a voice. I have a Twitter account and Facebook page; why not speak up?

But going beyond this, why not speak up when injustice is based upon race? When racism is known and seen, why would anyone keep their mouths closed? You see, we may not be king, but in the U.S.A. one does not need to be a king, but simply a citizen. Our rule is not based upon a monarchy, but upon the Constitution. That Constitution gives all an equal right to freedom of speech and to keep our statesmen and politicians accountable.  Our voice may be ignored, but that doesn’t dissolve us of the responsibility of speaking up.

It is no secret that the poor and needy are easily trampled upon. People take advantage of them constantly. As Christians we ought to speak up and defend their rights. One usually does not see a city or county declaring eminent domain upon the rich (I’m not saying it never happens, but it’s rare). It tends to happen upon the poor. And it is claimed that it is for the greater good, but it is not for the greater good of the person losing their home.  Casinos do not seem to ever be taken by the government, but little old widows’ home of 50 years are. Should a Christian ignore such a plight? Who’s going to listen to a little old widow? Not very many; but if Christians who believe in justice band together, their voices could and would be heard.

I have been studying Isaiah lately.  And I try to be careful not to equate the nation of Israel with the U.S., however, I do see a connection with the Church. Sadly, we can find that the way of Israel is followed by Christians.  Read carefully the scathing words of God to Israel in the first chapter of Isaiah.  God has just told the people that he abhors their sacrifices and their festivals and will not listen to their prayers.  Why? Because of their lack of care for justice.

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seek justice,
    correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow’s cause.
Isaiah 1:16-17, ESV

Your princes are rebels
    and companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
    and runs after gifts.
They do not bring justice to the fatherless,
    and the widow’s cause does not come to them.
Isaiah 1:23, ESV

This was the condition of the city of Jerusalem–Zion!  The people ignored the plight of the poor, the destitute, the orphan, and the widow.  They said nothing and they did nothing.  And God saw their silence as complacency and complicity. Is the Church guilty of the same? I’d say it often is. We tend to “mind our own business,” rather than open our mouths for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute, and judge righteously, defending the rights of the poor and needy.

The Queen Mother wanted to make her son Lemuel a good king–a just king.  She tells him not to get distracted with promiscuous women, not to give himself to drinking and drunkenness, and to act with justice, sticking up for those who cannot stick up for themselves.  Imagine what kind of county and what kind of world we’d live in if Christians would act like this king.

Book Review: Caring for Widows

Caring for Widows: Ministering God's Grace by [Croft, Brian, Walker, Austin]Brian Croft, pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, KY (and founder of Practical Shepherding) and Austin Walker, a pastor at Maidenbower Baptist Church in Crawley, England, co-wrote Caring for Widows: Ministering God’s Grace, published by Crossway Books in 2015. It is a book that I consider to be a thorough resource and guide for ministering to widows.

Austin Walker wrote the first portion of this work dealing with the biblical mandate to care for those who have lost their husbands.  In the “Conclusion,” Walker explained his need to write this was simply based on how few resources there are on such a vital subject to the church.  He began the project for himself and those around him.  He explored both the Old and New Testaments using a concordance to help him find verses on widows, studying each one carefully.  The result was ten chapters laying out God’s calling for the care of these precious ladies, as well as God’s protection over them, giving the Old Testament and New Testament examples and commands.  In his chapter, “The Price for Neglecting Widows”, Walker wrote:

For elders, deacons, and church members to neglect or ill-treat widows expresses an attitude that is not only the total opposite of the conduct of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it invites the chastening hand of God and calls into question the integrity of the church and her identity as the people of God, (pp. 30-31).

Pastor Walker gives examples of how Elijah, Elisha, Boaz, and Jesus cared for widows. He explained how God continuously stated his promise of protection in the law and how James called caring for widows a “pure and undefiled religion.”  And in doing so, wrote these words that ought to be taken to heart:

We have seen that the Scriptures require God’s people to show mercy and meet the widows’ needs. A widow, therefore, has a God given right to expect the church to visit her in her troubles, to reliever her, as well as to comfort her. No widow should ever be in a position in which she is neglected and her needs ignored, (p. 74).

I was surprised to see as much as Walker found about the care for widows in Scripture.  I knew it was there, but apparently I was not picking up on how often widows are mentioned. As much as I found the first portion eye-opening and convicting, I found the second portion, practical and doable.  Brian Croft wrote the second portion which showed that as pastors we are not alone in caring for the widows, but we must take the lead.

There are chapters about how to minister to widows through the word, through gifts, through time, and how to train and encourage others to do so as well.  As I said, this book is extremely practical. To give an example, Pastor Croft even explains how long one should make there visit, dealing with the three most common places to visit those who have lost their husbands: hospitals, home, and nursing homes.  I’ve always sought to keep someone from serving while visiting, but Croft pointed out that while we must never make a widow feel she must serve us, if she offers, allow her.”When you go to a widow’s home, the thing that might bring them the most joy is not having someone in her home to visit, but having someone to serve,” (p. 99). I had never thought of that before.  His advice on anniversaries (wedding and death) in chapter 19 was spot on as well.

I underlined quite a bit in this book, and I hope to be able to more faithfully care for the widows in our church because of this book.  While reading, I would often send my mom a quote through text or picture. She has been a widow for 20 years now, and wanted to get her opinion on what the authors were saying.  Her last comment back to me summarizes her thoughts well: “I hope this message gets across.”

At 156 pages (not including end notes), this book was a quick and easy read.  While specifically written for pastors, this book could and should be read by everyone that knows a widow; it can be downloaded in Kindle edition for about $10.  I offered it to my 15 year old son to read, as he has “adopted” an elderly widow across the street from us. He visits her once a week.  He is way ahead of the game than most of us in the church. I give this book four out of five stars. It is possible that this book could have gotten all five stars if I had not read Croft’s book: The Pastor’s Ministry (book review here) that contained a chapter on ministering to widows, largely based on this book. Thus, I was somewhat familiar with some of what was written. That being said, The Pastor’s Ministry gave me the desire to read this one as soon as I finished it and it was definitely worth it.