It’s been said that more is caught than taught. That was true for my siblings and I as we witnessed our parents caring for their parents. My grandmothers, both widows, lived in homes adjacent to our own—purchased by my father and mother. And in time, a grandmother’s sister-in-law also came to live in our little community. All three were doted on by Mom and Dad.
During Paul’s day, widows were desperately dependent upon their families. He wrote, “If [a widow] has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God” (1 Timothy 5:4). Paul revealed that it wasn’t merely right to care for aging parents and other family members, but that it reflected God’s own heart (James 1:27).
Paul continued, “Those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers” (1 Timothy 5:8). It’s plain to see that caring for the aged, particularly those in our own family, is a way to bless God and to also experience His blessing (Deuteronomy 5:16; Ephesians 6:2-3).
As my father and mother battled the challenges of old age, it wasn’t always easy for us or for them. My siblings and I wrestled with questions, limited time and resources, and guilt as we strived to best meet their needs. My parents, both affected by dementia, dealt with physical, mental, and emotional challenges.
But in His grace, God helped us care for and “carry” our parents during the final season of their lives (Isaiah 46:4). As much as it is possible, may we compassionately care for the aging loved ones in our lives by His wisdom and strength.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Ruth 1:1-22
Read John 19:25-27 and consider Jesus’ love and concern for His mother—a widow who needed someone to care for her.
Have you needed to care for elderly family members? What has been your experience? How can the Scriptures point you to the right way to care for the aged?