“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.” (1 Tim 5:8)
As a husband and a father this verse really stands out to me. It’s one of those verses that should be memorized and fully understood, just in case. Why? Because being called worse than an unbeliever does not sound like a pleasant situation at all.
I see to provide for your own, especially for your own household, as a more specific way of saying “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). And like Jesus said, there is no greater command than this (along with “and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
The Greek word used here for neighbor is “plesion”, which translates best as “near”, and so we could say: love those near to us as ourselves. In the context of a household this means your spouse and your children. As God has appointed the man to be the head of the family, it’s the man’s responsibility to provide for his wife and his children, his household. And so providing for them means loving them unconditionally, to deny oneself and give oneself up for them (just like Christ gave Himself up for the church).
How do we do that? Well, it will probably be a livelong journey to figure out, but it is my prayer that every day as I mature more in Christ-likeness I understand better what it means to love unconditionally. Why? Because I don’t want to be somebody who’s worse than an unbeliever, as “they profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” (Titus 1:16). I want to really know God, and be obedient so that God can do good deeds through me.