Jump Start # 2617
1 Timothy 5:15 “for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.”
Our verse today is tucked in a long section about financially helping needy widows. In a time when there was no Social Security, life insurance, or government help, those in need truly needed someone to help them. It is easy just to assume that the church ought to help anyone and everyone. Down and out on your luck, call a church, plead your case and hopefully you’ll get some cash. It doesn’t matter what you believe, how committed you are, or even if you go there. The church is there to help you out. That’s the common thought among many, if not most today.
In this chapter, the thoughts are directed towards those who are Christians. In fact, there is a consistent pattern in the N.T. of the church helping fellow Christians. Antioch sent money to help the famine plagued Christians in Jerusalem. What about the others in Jerusalem who weren’t Christians? This was not the responsibility of the church. The very passage that is used to describe taking up a collection, 1 Corinthians 16, states that is for “the saints.” The thoughts in this passage are directed towards widows who were Christians.
Three things were said.
First, those who had family were to take care of their own. The church was not to do what the family was supposed to do. Family comes first. We have an obligation to take care of our family. Not wanting to is not the same as unable to. Living paycheck to paycheck puts one in a position where he cannot help his family.
Second, those needy widows who have shown a long history of dedication to the Lord would be helped out by the church. The church takes care of it’s own, after the family. There is an order here.
Third, those who were young needy widows were advised to get married. The church wasn’t to help these young widows.
And, it is in this last situation, young widows, that Paul writes our verse. Some of the young widows have turned aside to follow Satan. They were no longer faithful in their walk with the Lord. They were no longer committed and dedicated. They tossed in the towel. They turned their back on the brethren. And, rather than being a help, they became a burden. They went to the other side.
Paul’s expression, “some have already turned aside,” indicates that some have already gone over. Paul knew this. Some have exchanged their soul for pleasure. Some were now lost again. And, from this we learn some lessons:
First, as much as we want everyone to be saved, some will not. Some change their minds. Some do not want to do what it takes to be saved. Maybe the death of their husbands were too much. Maybe they felt abandoned by God. Maybe they were never fully convinced, but were only following their husbands. Maybe their husbands were not Christians, and that thought caused them to go the other way. Many ideas we could place on the table. The fact is, no matter how great the preaching, how wonderful the shepherds are, how powerful the church is, some will turn aside to follow Satan. Some walked away from the Lord. We can beat ourselves up with guilt, thinking that we ought to have done more, but with some, nothing more could be done. It was the choice of the people. They decided to follow Satan once again.
This hurts the most when it is in the family. It strains relationships. It makes get togethers awkward.
Second, we must never give up on trying to get a person back to Christ. Every night we need to pray for those we love who have turned to follow Satan. We need to drop reminders, hints, suggestions to help them see the need to come back. Too much guilt preaching at them can cause them to cut all ties. So one must be careful. Think about the golden rule. What would you want done to you if you were in their shoes?
Third, there are times when the faithful of God care more about the soul of a lost person than he cares about it himself. He may rarely if ever think about his spiritual condition. His thoughts are all centered around the here and now. His focus is upon the material side of life. He had no time and no interest in Biblical discussions. When the person gets around to talking about spiritual things, often it’s negative finger pointing about all the things that are wrong in the world and in the church.
Fourth, Paul’s words today would be considered judging by a lot of people. Rather than trying to encourage the young widow back to the Lord, some would blast Paul for having a condemning spirit. And, in the times we live, people don’t what to know the truth. They want to be told that everything is ok. And, if one dares say otherwise, he is written off as a narrow, judgmental, Pharisee who doesn’t love. Yet, how can one say they love when they know a friend is turning to follow Satan? Does ignoring the situation define love? Does remaining silent speak of love? Seeing them slip away from Heaven, is that love?
And, as we know, a time comes, when those young widows that turned to follow Satan, would realize that it was a major mistake. At death it would be too late for them. And, today, those very people that Paul had in mind, are realizing that they gave up the most precious thing they ever had, salvation in Jesus Christ.
Is there anything that can be done to keep this from happening? Keeping close to those who are going through storms is important. These were young widows. Did they have children? Could more attention be given to their situation? But even with that, some will make the wrong choices and return to Satan.
Teaching God’s word is another powerful help. We need to know. We need to be informed. We need to understand that some things are just not on the table for discussion. Leaving the Lord is one of those things. It doesn’t matter how tough the road becomes. It doesn’t matter how long the journey seems. It doesn’t matter if you seem to be all alone in this, walking away from the Lord is never the right thing to do.
We need plain preaching and plain teaching of God’s word. Folks need to hear it. People need to understand the consequences of their choices.
Some have already turned aside…such terrible words. I wonder if tears were coming down Paul’s cheeks as he wrote those words. I wonder if there were names that he could have listed right then? I wonder if he stayed awake a long time that night praying about those young widows?
Sure is something to think about, isn’t it?