What are the Biblical guidelines to caring for the widows?

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In the Old Testament, God instructed that His people should care for the widows for they are weak and defenseless: “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child” (Exodus 22:22-24 also Deuteronomy 10:18; 14:28-29; 24:19; Proverbs 15:25; Isaiah 1:17,23; Psalm 82:3). And He commanded that justice should be rendered to them (Deut. 24:17, 19; Jeremiah 22:3; Psalm 82:3,4; Zechariah 7:10).

Widows are special objects of God’s divine love and He acts as their husband (Isaiah 54:4-5). God warned, “cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the…widow” (Deut. 27:19). And He called the widows to trust in Him as their provider (Jeremiah 49:11) and he assured them that “He is the protector of widows” (Psalm 28:5).

In the Mosaic law, the Lord made provision that a widow will be given to the brother of her deceased husband that he may raise her seed (Deut. 25:5-10). Later enactments did much to upgrade the sad state of the poor widows (Ex. 23:11; Lev. 19:9, 10; Deut. 14:29; 16:11, 14; 24:19–21; 26:12, 13).

In the New Testament, we find the same principle of caring for the widows reiterated. James wrote, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (ch. 1:27). For any act of kindness done to them is truly done to the Lord Himself (Matthew 25:40-45; Matthew 7:12).

Jesus commended the poor widow for giving all of her livelihood to God (Mark 12:41-44). And He warned the pharisees from devouring the widows houses (Mark 12:40). He showed great compassion for the widow that lost her son by raising him from the dead (Luke 7:11-17). We are also reminded of Jesus’ kindness for His widowed mother at the cross when He asked John to take care of her (John 19:26, 27).

In Acts 6:1-15, special instruction was given to care for the widows. Paul taught if “anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). But he also taught the believers to “Honor the widows who are truly widows” (1 Timothy 5:3,5). And he added that children and grandchildren should provide for the widows in their families (1 Timothy 5:4).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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