Study the Word: Bulletin Articles

Study the Word: Bulletin Articles

“Many judgment calls”

Categories: 1 Timothy 5:16, judgment, Study the Word

Recently in our Sunday morning Bible study class we studied the text of I Timothy 5:3-16, dealing with duties of children with a widow parent. It is not the purpose of this article to go back over all the things we studied; however, it was brought to my attention that it would be good to expand on the hardships children often face in having to look after an elderly parent.


The fact is this: just as parents make tough decisions in raising their children, the same happens when taking care of aged parents. Often it comes down to judgment calls. We might be quick to judge harshly someone who puts their parent in a facility that is unwanted. To this we need to be careful. There are times when around the clock medical attention is required. A son or daughter may not be qualified to handle certain needs.


None of the judgment calls that we are talking about ever provides justification for abandonment. I knew of a couple that were blessed with the opportunity to grow very old together. The downside is that it got to the point where one couldn’t physically take care of the needs of their mate. The one was eventually put in a nursing home so she could get around the clock care. The husband got up each morning and went down and spent the day with her. He did that until she passed. My point is that it wasn’t a case of not wanting to care for her, it was that he couldn’t. The same thing can happen with children.


Not all decisions that parents make for their children are understood and appreciated. The same can happen with parents toward their grown children. The important thing to remember is whatever life changing decisions that need to be made for a parent, remember Paul’s words to Timothy, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (I Tim. 5:8). 


It’s not necessarily wrong to do something for a parent that makes it better for everyone. The danger is in trying to justify passing off one’s responsibilities by saying it is better for everyone when it is truly only better for you. There is no question that it is very hard for anyone who is looking after a parent on their own. I have personally seen family members age long before their time because of the stress and work that is involved in looking after a loved one.


This is something brothers and sisters need to be aware of. In Galatians 6:2, we are told to bear one another’s burdens. This might mean to volunteer to sit with the member’s parent while they have a night off. It also might be needed to give some objective advice that might be hard to utter. It is very difficult to hear advice that encourages you to seek professional care, when you feel that no one else should do your job. The text of I Timothy 5 wasn’t written to cast guilt upon loyal and loving children who are unable to personally handle all the physical needs.


One of the hardest things any child has to face is when the parent no longer is able to think properly to express their wishes. Gaining the power of attorney is a double edge sword. On one hand, a person can now make decisions that is best for someone else without their permission. However, there can be a lot of doubt and stress, hoping that they choose what their parent would have wanted.


It’s such a wonderful blessing to have our parents live a long life. The reality is that everyone will someday die (Heb. 9:27). Children, as they get older and have families of their own need to think and plan for what will eventually come as their parents age. Also, parents need to also be thinking about things to help make it easier for their children for when that time comes. To not talk about it can create so many more problems. The Bible lesson today is that even though we make many judgment calls, let’s never forget our God given duties.