The call upon the man to provide is rooted deep in the beginning of all things.
In Genesis chapter 2, God gives Adam the creation mandate, namely to fill the earth, subdue it, have dominion over it, and then use its rich resources as a means to provide for himself and his wife. This mandate remains intact even after the fall, with the condition that because of sin, man will now provide for his family through toil and the sweat of his brow.
In Ephesians, Paul writes, “the husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church” (Eph 5:23), and just as Christ provides for his church, a man also provides for his wife. Elsewhere in scripture, we see Paul calling on men to provide for their families. He writes sternly that “a man who does not provide for his family has denied the faith” (1 Tim 5:8) and stands in judgment.
The call for men to provide for their wives and children is a call that endures into our present reality.
Although the focus will be more so on physical provision in this article, the call on men to provide for their families is not limited to merely the physical. Unfortunately, many men have been deceived into believing. As long as food is on the table and the bills have been paid, they have fulfilled their moral obligation to provide. However, the biblical call to provide is much deeper than simply meeting physical needs. God’s call on a man to provide weighs on all parts of a man’s relationship to his family—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
A man who faithfully loves and serves his wife, while graciously shepherding the hearts of his children, is closer to fulfilling the call to provide than a man who simply ensures his family has full bellies and a place to live.
A Holistic View of Provision
This holistic view of provision keeps men from being tempted to believe the lie that a man’s presents are more important than his presence in the life of his family.
Whereas the call to work hard on behalf of one’s family is very real and cannot be overemphasized, sometimes men find themselves in a position or season where they are unable to provide physically for their families. Through job loss, injury or another extenuating circumstance, a man may not be able to provide to the level he feels he should financially. If we believe the cultural perception that the provider is simply the person in the home with the largest paycheck, the feelings of guilt and inadequacy that accompany a man out of work can do significant emotional and psychological damage.
Thinking of the provider as simply the person who earns the most money is a cultural understanding, not a biblical one. The provider is not necessarily the person who earns the most money, but the person who works diligently to make the most of the money earned. With this understanding, we can unfortunately conclude that many men believe they are the providing for their families through their earning potential not their serving potential.
As men, we do not provide exclusively for our families by what we earn, we also provide for them by being responsible, reasonable and resourceful with what we have.
“Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord, not for men” (Col 3:23). As men, God commands us to work hard for his glory. Few things rob God of the glory he is rightly due than a lazy man who refuses or shirks his God given responsibilities. Responsibility and hard work are intertwined. Paul gives us no qualification as to what kind of jobs call for men to work hard, instead he says, “whatever we do.” This should encourage and challenge men to take serious any opportunity they are given to work. Start wherever you are to pursue responsibility. Jesus tells his disciples, “One who is faithful in very little is also faithful in much” (Luke 16:10). No job is too small to work hard and exercise your calling to be responsible. If you are a single man with aspirations to marry, it is of paramount importance that you begin to learn responsibility. This is God’s good design for man.
In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam a job before He gave him a wife. Responsibility is not only about working hard, but also about being wise with the fruits of our labor.
Equally as important as responsibility is reason. Paul encourages the church at Philippi to seek reason when he writes, “Let your reasonableness be known to all; the Lord is at hand” (Phil 4:4-5). Our ability to be reasonable is tied directly to our belief in the power and sovereignty of God. If we believe like James, “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father” (Jas 1:17), then we recognize that God is the ultimate source of our provision.
This truth frees us from the snare of believing that provision ultimately rises and falls on our ability. We are conduits through which God has chosen to provide, and as we walk in faithful obedience to Him, then we trust that He will continue to care for our needs. Being reasonable enables us to not become arrogant and irresponsible in seasons of prosperity, nor despair in times of need.
Providing is not simply about making more of what you have. It is about making the most of what you have.
As men, we should spend as much time thinking and praying over how to be good stewards of what God has already blessed us with, as we spend asking him for further blessings. This often requires discipline, creativity and sacrifice; all characteristics the man of God must be ready to exemplify for his family. Not only should we look to provide for our families but also we should be seeking out ways to be a blessing to others. “Let each of you look not only to your own interests but to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4). As believers in Christ, a generous spirit toward others should mark our lives. We are not naturally generous people. Generosity is a discipline that we acquire through the work of the Holy Spirit and wisely stewarding God’s blessings in our lives with others in mind.
Provision is about much more than what a man earns. It is about how responsible, reasonable, and resourceful he is with what God has provided for him. Let us pray that God would grant us wisdom, discernment, and maturity in our pursuit to provide for those he has entrusted to our care.
ABOUT DAVID: David serves as the Teaching Pastor at The Church At Cane Bay in Summerville, South Carolina. He is married to his wonderful wife Allyson, and they are the parents of one son, Titus.
You, too, can help support the ministry of CBMW. We are a non-profit organization that is fully-funded by individual gifts and ministry partnerships. Your contribution will go directly toward the production of more gospel-centered, church-equipping resources.