The scripture gives us an example of caring for widows. Such was within the framework of the local church at Jerusalem. Notwithstanding, many depart from the New Testament example and build centralized homes (Institutions) separate and apart from the local church to care for widows and orphans.
Such homes (Institutions) were unknown in the days of the Apostles and are not recorded in New Testament. Many thousands of dollars are spent for buildings (Institutions) for the aged so that children or nephews may send their mother or father there, thus freeing them of caring for them in their own house. “Honor widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite (return to) their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God” ( 1 Tim. 5:3, 4). Let us hear what Apostle Paul said relative to those who would not care for their own. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8). These scriptures tell us how to care for widows and orphans.
However, this being said, the church is responsible financially for widows who are widows indeed. The scriptures gives us the requirements for such a widow. “Let none be enrolled as a widow under sixty years old, (having been) the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she has brought up children, if she has used hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she hath diligently followed every good work” (1 Tim 5:9-10). Younger widows were refused because: “… for when they have waxed wanton against Christ, they desire to marry; having condemnation, because they have rejected their first pledge. And withal they learn also (to be) idle, going about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I desire therefore that the younger (widows) marry, bear children, rule the household, give no occasion to the adversary for reviling:” (1 Tim 5:11-14). “If any woman that believes has widows, let her relieve them, and let not the church be burdened; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed” ( 1 Tim 5:16) Otherwise, the church is only responsible for widows who are widows indeed, and the rest should be supported by the individual Christian who have widows in their family.
Paul made it abundantly clear what the role of the church was to be. There is no provision for the church to provide for orphans. This once again is the work of the individual Christian to care for orphans within their family. Such was the charge of the apostle James who wrote: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit (relieve, look out for, or help) orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep ONESELF unspotted from the world (Jam 1:27).
We have members among us today who say we have no New Testament example for such work, so it is left to man’s own judgment how such work is to be done. The Prophet Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 10:23: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps.” Let us learn not to go beyond what is written (1 Cor. 4:6). Those who transgress and go beyond the New Testament example have not God (2 Jn 9). Churches of the Lord who send money out of church treasury to Institutional homes, whether it be for widows or orphans, are sinning, whether they realize it or not. There is no biblical authority for such, but we do have Bible authority for what we must do (Col. 3:17).
Institutional homes, such as homes for aged and orphan, as we have them among us must come to an end. They originated in the heart of man, and not of God. Christians are commanded to take care of their own family, which includes widows and orphans. This is not the work of the church, but the work of the individual Christian. This we must do that the true work of the church: the preaching of the gospel, the perfecting of the saints, and edification of the church may be successfully accomplished (Eph 4:11,12).