A husband's care for his wife and children is essential to Christ's purposes on earth. Without the godly family, the Kingdom of God does not begin to advance.
It was a godly family that was brought through the flood to repopulate the earth and begin a new godly culture. It was through Abraham and his godly family that God blessed all the families of the earth. Abraham, God said, would direct his family to "keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice" (Gen. 18:19). And so it is today also. The godly family is essential to the advance of Christ's Kingdom in the earth. Compare the last words written in the Old Testament with some of the first words of the Gospel narration in the New Testament: "And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse" (Mal. 4:6), and "he [John the Baptist] will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Lk. 1:17). The close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament agree: The family is key and foundational to the Kingdom.
Off to Work We Go
We men have a propensity to dive into our work as we say to ourselves, and to our wives and children, either by word or by the implication of our attitude and actions, "My work is of first importance. God has given me a work and I am responsible to fulfill it. Certainly I will be there for you, but my work comes first." This is a misguided, misinformed attitude. Certainly the man of God is required to fulfill his God-given work, but he must also bring his family along with him in life and service to God.
When God created man, "male and female, created he them," and He gave them dominion, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it." Adam and Eve were to serve together in the dominion mandate, for the task was assigned to them. Adam therefore was to recognize that his work, the work of dominion, was not something separate from his wife and children. An essential part of Adam's responsibility therefore was to care for his wife and children (1 Tim. 3:4-5), and to bring them along with him into yet greater fruitfulness. He could not serve fruitfully if he neglected those God put in his care.
The man who is fruitful in service to God recognizes that far from being counterproductive or an exercise in futility, his investment in his family is God-blessed. God has promised to give him success as the shepherd and guardian of his marriage and family (Ps. 128), and even to bless his investment to the thousandth generation (Dt. 7:9; see also 6:1-3). What incredible returns! The wise and godly man will give himself to this, and will not be nonchalant about it; he will not falsely presume on the goodness of God to cover his indolence. Rather he will understand that he must be purposeful and energetic, that his investment will reap satisfying returns (Pr. 14:4), and that by this investment his service to the Kingdom of God will be greatly enhanced.
Pressing on to the Goal
The man of God who is successful in the Kingdom is successful in marriage and family. He recognizes himself as not yet glorified, still falling short of the glory of God. A sinner, saved by his gracious God, he knows that no matter how far he has come, he is not yet the husband or father God has called and purposed him to be (1 Cor. 8:2). He understands that in this life he will never "arrive." He recognizes he must continually cry out to God for himself and his family — for himself because he has not yet "arrived" and because he is easily deceived into complacency; and for his family, that they would be responsive to his care according to the good and gracious will of God. As a faithful shepherd he tends his wife and children with vigilant care. He knows doing so takes time and energy, yet he is ready to lay down his life for them. With Proverbial wisdom, he trusts God that this investment will pay ongoing dividends:
Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations. When the grass disappears, the new growth is seen, and the herbs of the mountains are gathered in, the lambs will be for your clothing, and the goats will bring the price of a field, and there will be goats' milk enough for your food, for the food of your household, and sustenance for your maidens. (Pr. 27:23-27)
So then, husbands and fathers, recognize that you cannot neglect or count your family as secondary in importance. If you would be successful in life and ministry, your first priority must be your family, your wife, your children. Neglect them, and neglect the Kingdom. Nurture them, and you set course for generations of blessing, even unto the thousandth generation!
- Eugene Clingman
Eugene Clingman is Executive Administrator of the International Church Council Project (www.churchcouncil.org) a theological effort (of Coalition on Revival) seeking to halt the slide of the evangelical church toward liberalism and compromise. Eugene also works part-time as a representative for an Inc. 500 company (MoreHealthTimeMoney.com).