Treat church people with respect
If ever people in the church there go wrong, and if you have to straighten them out, be careful to respect them while you do it. If you talk to an old man, don’t talk to him in an angry way, but talk easy to him, like he is your father. If it is a young man, talk to him like he is your brother. Or if it is an old woman, talk to her like she is your mother. Or if it is a young woman, respect her and talk to her like she is your sister.
Look after widows that haven’t got anybody to help them
If there are any widows in the church that haven’t got any family to look after them, then the church has to look after them. But if a widow has family, that is, if she has some kids or grand-kids that are old enough to look after her, then they have to do that. It is not the church’s job. Those younger people have to remember that they were kids once, and the woman that looked after them at that time is now a widow, so now it is their job to look after her. If we do that, God is happy with us.
But some widows are all alone and haven’t got any family to look after them. Some of those widows trust God to take care of them. They keep on praying and asking God for whatever they need. But other widows don’t think about God. They only want to have fun. They might think they are alive, but really, their spirits are dead.
7-8 If people don’t take care of their own family or their own relatives, they are not doing the thing that Jesus wants us to do. They are worse than the people that say they don’t believe in Jesus at all. Tell everybody in the church this message so that other people will not try to blame them.
So you can make up a list. Write down the names of all the widows that the church has to help. But only put a widow on the list if she is over 60 years old, and only if she always stayed with her husband and never went off with another man. 10 She has to be the sort of woman that everybody respects because she always did good things for people. She has to be a woman that brought her kids up properly. She has to be a woman that always gave strangers food and a place to sleep. She has to be a woman that did all sorts of things to help God’s people. She has to be a woman that always helped people in trouble and was always ready to do good things.
11 But if a widow is still a young woman, she still really wants to have a husband, so later she will want to stop doing things for Jesus, and she will want to marry somebody. So don’t write her name on that list. 12 You know, when she asked the church to help her, she promised to work for the church, so if she stops working for the church, it means that she is breaking that promise, and God might punish her for that. 13 Even if she doesn’t marry again, she still might get lazy. Instead of doing good things, she might just go around to people’s houses and talk to them about other people, and she might talk about things that she shouldn’t talk about.
14 So I’m saying this to young widows. Don’t try to get on to the church’s list, but instead, go ahead and marry somebody, and have kids, and look after your family. If you do that, our enemy will not have any reason to say bad things about us. 15 You see, some young widows already went away from God, and now they follow Satan, the boss over the bad spirits.
16 And, you know, some widows have relatives that can look after them. If a Christian woman has a relative that is a widow, she has to do that for her. She can’t ask the church to do it. Then the church can look after those other widows that haven’t got any family. They are the widows that really need help.
Church leaders are important
17 Everybody has to respect those people that lead the church properly, and the church has to pay them properly, especially the people that work hard to teach God’s word to other people. 18 God says this in his book,
If you get an animal to work for you, you have to let that animal eat something while it works.”*
And he also says,
It is right for workers to get their pay.”*
Well, it is like that too with the church leaders. They work for the church, so the church has to pay them properly.
19 And you know, church leaders can go wrong too. But if somebody blames a church leader for something, don’t believe them unless there are 2 or 3 people that tell the same story about that leader. Then you have to find out if that story is true.* 20 If that leader really did do something bad, then you have to shame him. You have to talk to him to try to straighten him out, and do it in front of everybody in the church. Then everyone will take notice and be too frightened to do bad things themselves. 21 And as you do that, you have to treat everybody the same way. You know, God sees everything I’m writing here, and so does Jesus Christ, and so do God’s angel messengers. They know everything that I am telling you now. I’m saying that you cant treat your family and friends any better than anybody else.
22 If ever you need to pick somebody to be a church leader, pick somebody that has been a Christian for a long time, not somebody that is a new Christian. It is like this. If the person you pick starts to go wrong, everyone will blame you as well as blaming that person. So pick somebody that you know is really good, so that you don’t get yourself mixed up with something that is wrong.
23 By the way, I know that you are often sick in the belly, so you have to mix a little bit of wine into the water you drink. Don’t just drink water on its own.
24-25 If you need to pick a new leader, remember this. There are some people that do bad things out in the open so that we soon hear about them, and we all know that they are no good before we even meet them. But there are also other people that hide the bad things they do so that nobody can see them, and it takes some time before we find out that they are bad people. In the same way, some people do good things out in the open so that everybody sees them, while other people hide the good things they do so that nobody can see them. But it doesn’t matter. Sooner or later everybody will find out about them, and everybody will know that they are good people.
* 5:18 Deuteronomy 25:4 * 5:18 Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:15; Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7 * 5:19 Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15