The Provider – The Biblical Father (IX)

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Tim.5:8).

Pastors should teach the Biblical principles of financial success: self-discipline, thrift, hard work, customer service, thrift, future-orientation, saving for retirement, thrift, profitability, low or zero debt, thrift, long hours, family sacrifice, reduced lifestyle, and thrift.[1]

“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great’ ” (Gen.15:1).

One of the terms which is repeated frequently in relation to Jesus and His activities in the Gospel of Mark, is “immediately.” In the first five chapters of Mark, “immediately” is used 21 times. (In the King James version, this is translated “straightway.”) Clearly, Jesus was a very hard working person.

A husband’s willingness to provide for his family, is one of his main responsibilities before God. He must operate out of the same certainty, that Abraham had: that God is his provider. This leads him to a position of faith and confidence, so that he can face the challenge of being the human vessel, God wants to use for this role.

By engaging in specific labour, [Adam] had begun to extend his control over the creation, thereby beginning the historical fulfilment of his own nature. He was asserting his legitimate, subordinate sovereignty over the creation. Only after he had demonstrated skills in his calling was he provided with a wife. The husband’s calling is therefore basic to marriage. It is supposed to be antecedent to marriage.[2]

Our most important capacity for providing as fathers, comes through work. A man’s relationship to his work is a subject which God treats very seriously. God commands the sluggard to consider the example of the ant, which “having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest” (Prov.6:7-8). God reiterates this in Prov.30:24-25, when we are told that though they are small, because ants prepare their food in the summer, they are “exceedingly wise.” Thus, the ant:

a) Is instinctively self-motivated, and willingly works unsupervised.

b) Is future oriented.

c) Capitalises on the seasons of provision to prepare and gather.

Matthew Henry’s commentary (written in 1710) on this passage is helpful:

Provident we must be in our worldly affairs, not with an anxious care, but with a prudent foresight; lay up for winter, for straits and wants that may happen, and for old age; much more in the affairs of our souls. We must provide meat and food, that which is substantial and will stand us in stead, and which we shall most need. In the enjoyment of the means of grace provide for the want of them…we must take pains, and labour in our business, yea, though we labour under inconveniences. Even in summer, when the weather is hot, the ant is busy in gathering food and laying it up, and does not indulge her ease, nor take her pleasure…the ants help one another; if one have a grain of corn too big for her to carry home, her neighbours will come to her assistance…the greater helps we have for working out our salvation the more inexcusable shall we be if we neglect it.[3]

The Christian person must realise, that hostility to work is not Christian. It is pagan in origin, going back to the time of the Romans.

One of the signal failures of the Roman Empire had been in the field of economics…no doubt their many conquests…and their contempt for productive labour, ranging from what we would call the highest professions down through business to the poorest agricultural and industrial employment, had much to do with their failure…the Roman attitudes to work and leisure form an important ingredient in the downfall of the Empire.[4]

The slothful person refuses to work, and “gets nothing” (Prov.13:4), but God’s promise to the “skillful man,” is that he will “stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men” (Prov.22:29).

Abraham and his men dug wells, and Isaac dug many wells also (see Gen.26). This was an integral component of their culture and lifestyle. They had the welfare of hundreds of people to consider, their “household” (Gen.14:14), along with their flocks and herds, (Gen.13:1-2; 26:12-14) in what could be a barren landscape. Along with Abraham and Isaac, Jacob (Gen.30:43), Job (Job 1:3; 42:12), and Boaz (Ruth 2:1) were godly, rich, capitalistic and entreprenurial.

Riches, Biblically speaking, are a perfectly legitimate outcome of diligence and the blessing of God. If riches are obtained legitimately, they can be a mark of God’s approval (see Prov.10:4, 22; 22:4). 100 years ago, my grandfather’s generation (who were farmers), when commencing to plough with their horses in the morning began in the dark; they had to find the furrow in the paddock, by lighting a match. They had a work ethic which I respect.

How can a Christian Man improve his work Prospects, and Output?

The Christian man has to ask himself the questions:

“What am I good at?

What do I like doing?

What do I feel God has called me to?”

The answer to these questions can be a guide to the sort of employment God may direct us into, which can help us be better providers.

The most obvious opportunity, is through education, and the gaining of qualifications. I completed an Arts degree externally after 6 years of study in 1997, while I was working full-time as an abattoir labourer, in Dubbo, NSW. This qualification, along with a Diploma of Education, permitted me to enter professional employment as a teacher, in 1998. That was a relatively cheap degree. I paid cash for my courses each year before starting (saving 20%), and studied from home.

The second opportunity (which is similar), is through the gaining of extra skills, especially through working with others, in their work. This is the best way to learn anything. This is the nature of an apprenticeship, which is an ancient means of gaining a skill. As someone has commented, “the purpose of Christian education is …to enlarge the scope and extent of man’s power under God.” [5]

Thirdly, the Christian man needs to grow in diligence. Diligence relates to one’s effectiveness, and applying oneself to the task, in an efficient, responsible and time-effective manner. Why shouldn’t believers be the best possible employees? Happy to be on the job, productive and working hard. This means that every aspect of half-heartedness should be eliminated, for work is a God-given calling for us all to enthusiastically embrace, as a vital aspect of God’s plan for His people, to “rule and have dominion” (Gen.1:26-28).

Lastly, in terms of being an effective provider, the Christian husband needs to be aware that life is subject to unforeseen shocks. Do you know what tomorrow will bring? No one does. Job, though a godly man, found that life (despite his prayers), can unravel in a way he hadn’t even considered (Job 1:18-22). So, a godly husband should set aside monies for the future, and needs to make provision for his family, should he be killed or incapacitated.

Churches should see to it that the wife of every head of household has sufficient low-cost “term” life insurance written on her husband’s life, to protect her and the children…[She should be established as] the owner of the policy. [6]

Conclusion:

Being the provider for the family (under God) is a challenging task, but that’s the nature of the kingdom of God. In 30 years of marriage, I’ve had a multitude of jobs in four states of Australia, in both professional and non-professional work. God has challenged, helped and blessed me, and He wants to do the same for every family provider, as we look to Him, and put our trust in Him. Ask Him to guide you, and give you wisdom and understanding to develop this aspect of His high calling for your life.


[1] North, G., “Inherit the Earth,” 1987, p.152.

[2] North, G., “The Dominion Covenant,” 1987, p.90.

[3] Matthew Henry’s Commentary, (1710) Vol.III, p.822.

[4] Hodge, I., “Making Sense of Your Dollars,” 1995, p.6.

[5] Rushdoony, R. J., “The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum,” 1985, p.33.

[6] North, “Inherit the Earth,” 1987,  p.149.

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