1 Timothy 5:13 is a warning to women about the sins that come with having too much time on your hands. I know how absurd this may sound to many of you: Did you say too much time? Oh what would that be like?? In the midst of a crowded day of caring for children and running a household, it seems impossible. But that is actually Paul’s point in the following verses. In order to keep from idleness and gossip and being a busybody, he recommends that women bear children and manage the house. In other words, fruitful labor is a protection from many temptations. Idleness is a set up to stumble.
When we are idle, we are tempted to entertain ourselves with other people’s business, and sometimes other people are all too eager to share their business with us. The women Paul was concerned about were “wandering about from house to house, saying things which they ought not” (vs. 13). Of course today, we have the tools at our fingertips to check in on other people’s business while never leaving our home. In fact, we have the technology in our pocket to find out far more than we wanted to know.
Women are naturally good communicators and listeners, which is a mighty big help when it comes to raising children and taking care of people. But this natural strength can also become a natural weakness. We can be tempted to want to know and pass on information that is none of our business.
Given Paul’s warning to grown women, it’s clear we need to teach our daughters about this topic, both by instruction and by example. And we need to see the value of keeping our little girls busy too. Boredom and idleness lead to grumpiness and annoyance, and make fertile ground for fault-finding and tattling. Little girls who indulge in the sins of tattling and tale-bearing can grow up to become gossips and busybodies.
I have ten granddaughters, and most of them are at the stage where they love to help. When they come to my house, they often ask me right off if there is something they can do to help me. I hate saying no, although sometimes if I am in the midst of getting something hot out of the oven at that very moment, I have to say no thanks. But how much better if I can give them a job?
When they ask for a job and we give them a job, we are blessing them with fruitful labor, and they feel blessed. It’s a lovely exchange. But finding suitable jobs for them may take time and thought, patience and creativity. Even so, it’s a valuable use of your time and will yield long-term fruitfulness. So give your girls jobs they will enjoy. We should think of bestowing on them, not loading them up with burdens. While they love folding napkins, give them napkins to fold, even if it would be easier and faster to do it yourself. But don’t let them be bored. Steward their time, shepherd their duties, and watch over their attitudes. Be a source of blessing and a picture of joyful labor. This will keep them from becoming the kind of women who are idle and unproductive.