Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers,
older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.
But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.
But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.
Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame.
If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband,
and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.
As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry.
Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge.
Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.
So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.
Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.
If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages."
Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.
Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.
I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.
The word of the LORD came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah,
and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.
The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
"Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."
But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD.
Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant."
The word of the LORD came to me: "What do you see, Jeremiah?" "I see the branch of an almond tree," I replied.
The LORD said to me, "You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled."
The word of the LORD came to me again: "What do you see?" "I see a boiling pot, tilting away from the north," I answered.
The LORD said to me, "From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land.
I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms," declares the LORD. "Their kings will come and set up their thrones in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls and against all the towns of Judah.
I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made.
"Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.
Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land--against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.
They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD.
The word of the LORD came to me:
"Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: " 'I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.
Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them,' " declares the LORD.
Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, all you clans of the house of Israel.
This is what the LORD says: "What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.
They did not ask, 'Where is the LORD, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and rifts, a land of drought and darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?'
I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.
The priests did not ask, 'Where is the LORD?' Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.
"Therefore I bring charges against you again," declares the LORD. "And I will bring charges against your children's children.
Cross over to the coasts of Kittim and look, send to Kedar and observe closely; see if there has ever been anything like this:
Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols.
Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with great horror," declares the LORD.
"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth? Why then has he become plunder?
Lions have roared; they have growled at him. They have laid waste his land; his towns are burned and deserted.
Also, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have shaved the crown of your head.
Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the LORD your God when he led you in the way?
Now why go to Egypt to drink water from the Shihor ? And why go to Assyria to drink water from the River ?
Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me," declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.
"Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, 'I will not serve you!' Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute.
I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?
Although you wash yourself with soda and use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me," declares the Sovereign LORD.
"How can you say, 'I am not defiled; I have not run after the Baals'? See how you behaved in the valley; consider what you have done. You are a swift she-camel running here and there,
a wild donkey accustomed to the desert, sniffing the wind in her craving-- in her heat who can restrain her? Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves; at mating time they will find her.
Do not run until your feet are bare and your throat is dry. But you said, 'It's no use! I love foreign gods, and I must go after them.'
"As a thief is disgraced when he is caught, so the house of Israel is disgraced-- they, their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets.
They say to wood, 'You are my father,' and to stone, 'You gave me birth.' They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, 'Come and save us!'
Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! For you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah.
"Why do you bring charges against me? You have all rebelled against me," declares the LORD.
"In vain I punished your people; they did not respond to correction. Your sword has devoured your prophets like a ravening lion.
"You of this generation, consider the word of the LORD: "Have I been a desert to Israel or a land of great darkness? Why do my people say, 'We are free to roam; we will come to you no more'?
Does a maiden forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number.
How skilled you are at pursuing love! Even the worst of women can learn from your ways.
On your clothes men find the lifeblood of the innocent poor, though you did not catch them breaking in. Yet in spite of all this
you say, 'I am innocent; he is not angry with me.' But I will pass judgment on you because you say, 'I have not sinned.'
Why do you go about so much, changing your ways? You will be disappointed by Egypt as you were by Assyria.
You will also leave that place with your hands on your head, for the LORD has rejected those you trust; you will not be helped by them.
I call with all my heart; answer me, O LORD, and I will obey your decrees.
I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes.
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your laws.
Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law.
Yet you are near, O LORD, and all your commands are true.
Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.
Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law.
Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise.
Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out your decrees.
Your compassion is great, O LORD; preserve my life according to your laws.
Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes.
I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word.
See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your love.
All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.
Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word.
I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil.
I hate and abhor falsehood but I love your law.
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.
Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.
I wait for your salvation, O LORD, and I follow your commands.
I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly.
I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you.
May my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word.
May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise.
May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.
May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous.
May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight.
Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.
I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.