As parents we’re called on by God to develop the spiritual lives of our children, the emotional lives and also the physical lives. God calls us to take responsibility for our family as well as their physical needs when we need to. Paul tells Timothy “But 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).  Many commentators attempt to restrict the application of this passage to just widows since the context is speaking about that. Yet, as Kent Hughes says, “Today I believe the application of this passage should be wider, because modern American culture has produced a category of women virtually unknown in the first century—Christian women and children who have been abandoned by their spouses and left without family support.”

Those deserting their families in Paul’s day, received a special cursing.  He used the word “infidel” in his description in 1 Timothy 5:8.  That’s the meaning of the word that was translated “unbelievers.” Throughout history the term has had some very derogatory connotations associated with it. It referred to those outside the acceptable behavior patterns of a culture. Moslem’s use it derogatorily to refer to Christians today in a negative sense. We don’t pray five times a day! We don’t worship Allah and Mohamed as his prophet. We are often viewed as something less than human.  It’s probably one of the worse names you could call a person in some cultures. Paul did not call them infidels as such. Instead he said they were “worse than infidels.” The seriousness of providing for those under our roofs could not be expressed more forcefully.

My Dad believed his greatest responsibility in life was to put food on the table, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads. This sounds so basic that it isn’t worth commenting on. Yet in a society that tolerates and sometimes even fosters dead-beat fathers who neglect this basic responsibility we cannot overlook it. Dad grew up in the depression and was part of the rail riders who went from town to town looking for work. He helped build some roads while working with the Roosevelt WPA. After the war he began his own stucco, stone and plastering business like his father before him. He worked hard from sun up to sun down, especially through the summer months when the weather was conducive to outdoor work. He would hire laborers from the meat-market downtown Omaha or anywhere he could find them. The laborers were often not the best workers and always had drinking problems and many had deserted their families. To him, the worse thing a man could do was to not care for people who lived under his roof. He would often ridicule them and tried to make sure the money they earned got to the women and children they were supposed to support.  He would refer to them as “dead beats” and other terms that I don’t want to mention.  He never called the infidels,  but  in a way, deadbeats like that are the true  American infidel!