By Nancy Karpenske
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27)*.
In today’s society, homes led by single mothers are one significant expression of “orphans and widows.”
In Acts 6, one of the first problems in the early church centered around neglect or unfair treatment of widows in a basic necessity: daily food. The apostles’ response shows it was important to respond to the need and care for these individuals and families. The apostles invited the church to select seven of their best men, those of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom. These men were to be hands-on in finding solutions.
The lesson for us is that God cares about fatherless families. He expects Christians to show compassion and caring.
“A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation.
God makes a home for the lonely” (Psalm 68:5, 6).
“He supports the fatherless and the widow” (Psalm 146:9).
“Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).
When the Israelites first received God’s laws, God clearly expressed his desire for the community to care for widows and orphans.
“God executes justice for the orphans and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18).
In Deuteronomy 14:28, 29, the tithe given by families provided for the Levites (who had no land of their own), and also local widows, orphans, and aliens.
In Deuteronomy 24:19-21, farmers are instructed to harvest, but not to go through their fields a second time, so as to leave some sheaves behind for widows, orphans, and aliens.
Caring and providing for fatherless families has always been a priority for God.
*All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.
Nancy Karpenske, a contributing editor with CHRISTIAN STANDARD, is director of women’s ministry at LifeBridge Christian Church, Longmont, Colorado.