At Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured out on the Church, and the gospel burst out into the world from Jerusalem, there was almost immediately a problem with figuring out how to take care of all the widows in Jerusalem. As the early Christians feasted at the Lordís Table and from house to house, they understood that this feasting was for the strangers, the fatherless, and the widows in their midst. Throughout the Old Covenant, there was the repeated refrain that Godís people must care for the strangers, the fatherless, and the widows in their midst. And this calling was renewed in the New Testament: When the leaders of the early Church confirmed Paulís ministry to the Gentiles, they gave him the right hand of fellowship and only insisted that he remember the poor, the very thing, Paul says that he was eager to do. Likewise, James famously insists that pure and undefiled religion is to visit orphans and widows in their distress. When the Reformation broke in Europe, it should come as no surprise to find that this gospel renewal almost immediately included a renewal in mercy ministry. Cities across the continent became famous for their care of immigrants, orphans, and widows. As we celebrate Reformation Day, the exhortation is to go and do likewise. First, care for the people in your midst such that there are no functional strangers, orphans, or widows. It will not do to talk about how important mercy ministry is and simultaneously neglect your own wife and children. In your zeal to care for the fatherless, the strangers, and widows do not create new ones. Remember what Paul says to Timothy, a man who does not provide for his own household is worse than an unbeliever. And he says that in the context of caring for widows. Secondly, do not believe the lie that says that after your own family there will not be anything left. This lie says that if we extend ourselves beyond our family and close circle of friends we will neglect our children, we will be too strapped financially. There just wonít be enough. This is really just a lack of faith. Jesus fed 5000 with a little boyís sack lunch, and therefore you have nothing to fear. Yes, love your children, love your wife, love your husband, but there will be more for you. There was more oil for the widow and her son, and there will be enough bread for the world.
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