“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
1 Timothy 5:8
The Bible is clear that a godly father accepts his responsibility to be a provider for his family. Decent men embrace this responsibility as an honor rather than a horror. Therefore, it is important for us dads to consider these 4 practical ways that a father can be a provider.
- A godly father provides for the spiritual needs of his children. This is a dad who can be found reading the Bible with his kids, praying with them, and answering their questions. Although mom, a church Sunday school teacher, or a youth pastor might help train the child, the father holds primary responsibility. In Ephesians 6:4 we read, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
- A godly father provides for the physical needs of his children. This point may seem obvious to some, but is apparently lost in our culture where children are more likely to live in poverty than adults. Before sin even entered the world, Genesis 2:15 says that “the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Work is an act of worship, and men are supposed to work and provide for their families.
- A godly father provides for the relational needs of his children. A wise father brings his children into a healthy church community. In the New Testament, Paul often uses the metaphor that the church is a family by spiritual, rather than physical, birth. This web of relationships should support the parents in their task of training and cultivating their children in the Lord. Proverbs teaches that a wise father selects his friends carefully. Proverbs 12:26 says that “the righteous chooses his friends carefully.” Additionally, Proverbs 27:10 says, “Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.” Godly friends of all ages who love God and live righteously are wonderful influences upon a child.
- A godly father provides for the generational needs of his children’s children. Making money to provide for your family is not the same thing as spending it wisely. Proverbs 28:25 says, “a greedy man stirs up strife.” The greedy daddy is the one with lots of toys and hobbies that take his free time and money away from the needs of his wife and children. While it is not a sin for a man to have nice things, it is a sin if he habitually gets nice things for himself before tithing to the Lord and being generous with his family as a demonstration of the gospel of grace and biblical priorities. Proverbs 19:14 goes even further by teaching that, “house and wealth are inherited from fathers.” Wisdom lives from generation to generation; folly lives from credit card to credit card, driving around in a car with the bumper sticker that brags, “we’re spending our children’s inheritance.” Proverbs 13:22 goes further still: “a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” A wise father first cultivates himself, then a godly relationship with a wise woman, then his children, and ultimately anticipates that his wisdom and wealth will be passed on to his grandchildren.
As a father and mother work together to raise a child and provide for his or her needs, they are setting a course of life that will continue into adulthood. Proverbs 22:6 explains it this way: “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This is not a promise, but rather a truism: training a child in a God-ward direction sets for them a healthy course of life. Sadly, the converse is also true: a foolish father sets his child on the path of folly, and few turn from it in repentance. Therefore, it is imperative for a wise father and mother to get their child going in the right direction and by God’s grace help the child continue forward in wisdom and holiness.