“Put your religion into practice?”
What’s that all about?
The word for “religion” in 1 Timothy 5:4 is the Greek word so often translated “worship.” We think about worship as something we do on Sunday when we gather as the Church. How does that relate to taking care of our family?
Our Sunday worship is a time to give praise, honor, and glory to God. But that time is but a reminder that the rest of our week is to be spent also doing precisely that with every hour of our lives.
God is not honored when we neglect our family. Mom may be forgetful and hard of hearing, Dad may be irascible, money may be tight and time may be in short supply, but if our needy family members are neglected and aren’t being cared for, the very basics of our faith have been denied and the guilty become worse than unbelievers.
The early church was careful that none of her members went without, but that led some Christians to leave their family members in want and neglect, assuming the burden could and should be shared by the body of Christ. Paul’s words are designed to rebuke that behavior. Family is responsible for doing what they can. If the need goes beyond that, the church family can step in.
And incidently, it is entirely within the realm of responsibility for church leaders to take guilty Christians to task for irresponsible behavior.