“He Has Denied the Faith”

Couch potato

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 Timothy 5:8).

The inspired apostle Paul delivered some harsh condemnation for those who refuse to provide for their own. But why is it that God likens this to one denying the faith? It is because the refusal to provide for one’s own is contrary to several fundamental characteristics that one must have in order to be a disciple of Christ.

It should be noted that this condemnation is for those who refuse to provide for their own, not for those who are unable to provide for their own. Some may be unable to provide for their families due to injury, illness, or temporary unemployment. But it should never be due to a lack of willingness (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:10).

In order to understand why Paul connects this to one’s faith, let us briefly notice some characteristics that are necessary both to provide for one’s own and to faithfully serve the Lord.

  • Diligence – God expects His people to be hardworking. The wise man said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). As we labor in this life, we must “do [our] work heartily, as for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). One must be diligent in his labors if he is to provide for his own.
  • Selflessness – Everything that we do must be “done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14). This type of love puts the needs of others ahead of oneself. Paul wrote, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). One must be selfless if he is to provide for his own.
  • Sacrifice – Providing for one’s own will require a sacrifice of time and of the fruit of one’s labor. Discipleship is also rooted in a willingness to sacrifice. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Particularly in the home, husbands are called to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of their wives, just as Christ was willing to lay down His life for the church (Ephesians 5:25). One must be willing to sacrifice if he is to provide for his own.
  • Independence – It is expected that parents provide for their children (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:14). However, when one becomes an adult, he must work to provide for himself (2 Thessalonians 3:10). When one marries, he leaves father and mother (Genesis 2:24), which implies that a new household is formed that is distinguishable from the household of one’s parents. While there is nothing wrong with parents helping their adult children at times, one should not take advantage of such help and neglect his own responsibilities. As we are each individually accountable before God (Ezekiel 18:20), we must not neglect our individual responsibilities to our families. One must recognize the need to be independent if he is to provide for his own.
  • Maturity – In explaining the temporary nature of miraculous spiritual gifts, Paul said, “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). God expects all of us to “press on to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1) in our spiritual lives, but the same is true in our physical lives as well. We must put away childish things and accept the responsibilities that God has given us. That may mean limiting or eliminating certain recreational activities that would hinder one from engaging in work that must be done. One must develop maturity if he is to provide for his own.

One may fail to provide for his own by refusing to do the work necessary to make such provisions. One may also fail to provide for his own by refusing to use the fruit of his labor for the benefit of his family, choosing instead to use it for his own selfish desires. In either case, repentance is necessary. To the extent that one is able (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:12), he must work to provide for his own, or else “he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

This article is one of the fifty articles included in the book Plain Bible Teaching: The First Ten Years. Click on the link to read more about the book.

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