Guidelines For Generosity

Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But 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 5:3-8

Based on how Paul states this, there seem to have been some women who were "fake widows" unfairly leveraging the church's resources. So Paul wants Timothy to vet this issue. And the litmus test is two-fold. First, she needs to be a woman with no husband who has no family support. Second, she demonstrates dependence on God.

This principle is one of those things that always gets me. It's the tension between my generosity and those who receive my generosity. And Paul suggests that the church needs to use discernment with two simple guidelines. One is a hard guideline, and the second is a soft guideline. The hard guideline determines the woman's actual need, and the soft guideline determines the heart of the woman with the need.

I think these are excellent guidelines to put into practice. One guideline elicits responsibility where there could be an opportunity for abuse. The other guideline requires us to assess the heart of the recipient. But the only way to learn this is to practice it. So today, do that. Be generous. Support someone today. Not me. Someone else. But right before you do, ask these two questions:

  1. Does this person have a real need?
  2. Does this person demonstrate a dependence on God in this need?

Try it and let me know what you think.

ASK THIS: Who is a person who needs your financial support?

DO THIS: Answer the two questions and support them if appropriate.

PRAY THIS: God, make me aware of the needs in the body of Christ.

PLAY THIS:  I Need You.

short | practical | biblical
Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.

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Vince-thank you this devotional. For several years I assisted in the use of funds set aside by our church family-as benevolence for church members. The hard guideline was easy to recognize. A member was ill or sudden loss of job and needed help with rent or utilities. The second guideline was harder, as I would have to evaluate the request if the same member came back year after year. I know God does not need our money, but it is always a test of our heart in generosity

Dan Sindelar

Vince, I was with the New Life men’s group in Oklahoma in August and bought some of your materials and signed up for your daily devotional which I look forward to every day. Thank you for the time and effort you put into these daily messages as they have been very influential in my daily walk.

Chris Caliguire

Hi Vince. Youre finally to the verses I was looking forward to. More struggles with my widowed Mom again last night. I won’t mention them here but she’s threatening to sue me if she doesn’t get her way. Please pray that I have courage to love the unlovable, and she seeks the Lord. It stinks how the unlovable is my MOM!! It makes me want to lean into the Lord harder too.

Tom Myles

Thanks Vince. Just found your website. I am 66 years old retired and setting up a men’s ministry in our church called Mosaic in London Ontario Canada. We are a small church that is multi cultural ,
with a large amount of young people who love Christ.

We have a ton of young men who are searching for something but we are not sure what they are searching for.
With the Holy Spirit and your ministry I feel confident in establishing a men’s ministry that works for the men.
I have done many men’s bible studies and have been involved in men’s ministry before but times have changed. I have listened to a number of your messages on the changing times and tactics meant for todays church.
I really appreciate your studies on utube. They are a real blessing to many.

God Bless
Tom Myles
God Bless if you are ever in Canada we would love to have you visit.


Any of Vince’s books truly are great resources for Spiritual growth and building personal disciplines. Regarding the making of disciples in accordance with Jesus’ Great Commission to us in Matthew 28, have you heard of Every Man a Warrior? If not, I am happy to discuss the curriculum with you. I can be reached at 615-586-5226. My email is [email protected]. May God bless you as you serve!

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