Evidently, Timothy had his hands full when it came to the young widows in the Ephesian church. We saw yesterday how many of them had signed on for permanent financial support from the church without knowing what they were doing and then abandoned Christ, probably a reference to their marrying pagan men when no Christian husbands were available. Yet even for those who did not end up leaving the church, there were still some problems that were caused when these young women had their expenses funded by the church.
Paul lists some of these issues in 1 Timothy 5:13. With no family to care for and having their needs met, many of the young widows had become “idlers,” not following through on their commitments to the church. Scripture has always condemned such behavior (Prov. 19:15; 2 Thess. 3:10–12), and it is no wonder that Paul encourages the young widows to remarry so that these problems would not continue.
Apparently, the young widows had too much time on their hands. Taking advantage of being on church support and not having to work, they went from house to house acting as busybodies, spreading all kinds of gossip (1 Tim. 5:13). This is probably a reference to their perverting the task of visitation to which they had been assigned. Instead of ministering comfort to needy souls from the wisdom of Scripture and Christian teaching, they poked around in matters that were none of their concern, spreading rumors and so on. They may have even been spreading some of the false teaching that was causing such trouble in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3–4; 2:12–15), for most commentators believe that is what Paul means when he refers to the young widows “saying what they should not” (5:13).
We may not face the same exact problems today, but it is still the case that trouble often finds those who have a lot of free time. This is particularly true for the spiritually immature, which is likely why the young widows were stirring up such trouble. Then as now, when we as the body of Christ do not redeem the time in these evil days by filling our schedules with good works (Eph. 5:15–16), we run the risk of serving sin when we have nothing else to do.