The Scriptures repeatedly extol the blessing of children and their importance to the family and to the Kingdom of God. Psalms 127 and 128 declare that God delights in blessing the righteous man with a fruitful wife and children. In view of this Biblical teaching, and in keeping with their own love of children, many Christians have contemplated having a large family.
One obstacle to seeking this blessing is finances. Many assume they cannot afford it, and abandon their vision. Others never even seriously consider having many children.
We must remember that the God who declares that children are His reward, and calls a husband and wife to “be fruitful,” is the same God who states that He will supply all the needs of His children who take Him at His Word and keep His commandments (Phil. 4:19). Scarcity has always been a problem in a world of limited resources, and conditions were not essentially different in the days when the Psalmist extolled the blessing of many children. The same difficulty of providing adequate material needs for a large family faced men in the Old Testament era as it does today.
Financial Resources or the Promises of God?
The issue is not our financial resources, but God’s promise to provide for His people. One of the most important of these promises is found in Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” The context of Matthew 6:33 rebukes the audience for seeking financial security in tangible riches. Jesus states that this is a false hope; all riches can be lost, even in a moment. True financial security is found in making the work of God’s Kingdom our priority in life. If we do, God gives His absolute assurance that He will see to it that all of our material needs are met.
A careful study of Scripture reveals that having children, many children, and training them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is one of the most significant works for the Kingdom of God that a married couple can ever do. If a husband and wife seek first the Kingdom of God by seeking His blessing for many children, then they have God’s immutable promise that He will provide for them and their children!
By the immense blessings of God, my wife, Linda, and I enjoy ten children. We are thankful that early on we became convinced by the Word of God that raising up many godly children was an essential work for the Kingdom of God, and we sought His blessing to that end. Although our resources were few, we prayed for and trusted in God’s promise of Matthew 6:33, and through the years as our family grew and the financial challenges also grew, He never failed us.
God’s Word is true. By trusting in Him, those who look to Him rather than their own resources experience the walk of faith and the power of God to provide. When we trust and obey God, though our faith may waver, He never fails!
In concert with faith in God’s promise, parents who have a large family must also, in accord with Scripture, act righteously and prudently. Through the growth of our family, the Lord has taught us many wise and good principles to help us remain faithful, and these principles are no less useful even for smaller families:
- We learned to establish family priorities. Financial resources are directed to essentials first, and extras and non-essentials second. God always provides for our genuine needs.
- We learned to better understand our roles. The role of the husband is to provide for his family. He must be committed to working hard and achieving to the best of his ability. The role of the wife is to be a wise manager of the resources that her husband provides. She must learn the art of stretching each dollar as far as possible. A diligent man and a frugal, resourceful wife are a team that will be successful in providing for a
- We learned to live simply and contentedly. A modest lifestyle, unencumbered by the desire to live beyond one’s means, is essential. If we are discontented, we are in the grasp of the sin of “covetousness which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). Having a large family does impose certain limits as to what is possible, and these limits need to be cheerfully accepted as part of our calling to be fruitful and raise up children for the Lord.
- We learned to act prudently to extend our resources. Here are a few things that we have found important. First, where possible, do the work yourself. Paying others to do work you could have done is a drain on finances. Cook from scratch, home educate your children, and do repairs yourself. Second, always seek the lowest price. This means shopping at discount and second-hand stores. It is amazing what you can save. Third, be willing to receive clothing from others. When you have a large family, generous folks like to pass the clothing that their children have outgrown onto your children. Gratefully receive these gifts, and you may find you hardly ever have to buy clothing. Fourth, learn the arts of cost-efficient health and healing. Medical costs can be a very large outlay. Much of these costs can be averted if we learn prevention and healing through healthful diet and non-prescription remedies. Fifth, stay out of debt. This is extremely important. Credit card debt and interest on loans for depreciating items are like a canker worm eating out our substance. Sixth, if you can’t afford it, do without. This not only helps avoids debt and a strained budget; it teaches you and your children self-control and contentment.
- We learned to ask God to provide. The Lord delights to answer prayers like these. Many times my wife and I were pressed and sought the Lord to meet our needs. Every time He provided for us; sometimes by showing us a way we hadn’t considered, sometimes by providing extra work or income, and sometimes through the gifts of others.
A Rev. Moses Brown had twelve children. One day a man who was considering how he provided for them, said to him, “Sir, you have just as many children as Jacob.” Rev. Brown replied, “Yes, and I have Jacob’s God to provide for them.” Joseph Hall once stated: “I remember a great man coming into my house at Waltham, and seeing all my children standing in the order of their age and stature, said, ‘These are they that make rich men poor.’ But straight he received this answer, ‘Nay, my lord, these are they that make a poor man rich; for there is not one of these whom we would part with for all your wealth.’”1
1. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Psalms, ed. Davis Otis Fuller (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1976), 593.