I am from the South. The Bible Belt, Southern Baptist, wear your Sunday best to service, South. As such, I was raised in a home with a hard-working daddy. He worked hard outside the home, and he spent most off days working hard on yard work, vehicle maintenance, and the like. I never doubted that man loved us deeply, and one of the biggest ways he showed that love was by working himself to the bone to provide. He instilled a strict work ethic in his children, a strong loyalty to family, and I see his teaching in concrete form watching the strength of my little brother. Daddy taught us well, and I mention all this to ensure I’m understood that his role as a provider is still held highly in my memory. He raised me to find a husband who could do the same, be a provider. The church raised me to be a member of a household where my husband is the provider. I started to wonder, as my life has changed over the past couple of years, what does God say about a husband being the provider?
You see, currently I am the breadwinner. I have always made more in a monetary sense than my spouse. I have a college degree, where he does not. I hold a career that is in high demand, where his forte (restauranteur) is a dime a dozen. So, I’ve always been the primary breadwinner, even when I worked part-time, but this past year and a half he has taken on the role of full-time househusband, while I am the financial earner. We both work, but I provide the finances for the home, something I realize that my upbringing has told me defines “a provider.”
Since my husband no longer provides financially for the family, I have been more interested in what the Bible has to say about that. Not just what man has to say about it, what society has to say about it, or what my Facebook friends have to say about it. In my scriptural research on provision, as it relates to the husband, I’ve found a lot.
I’ve found that man is called to be the head of the family, that he is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. I’ve found where it states the woman is the weaker vessel, and how she must submit to her spouse. I found a verse where it instructed the woman to work at home, but also found one where a virtuous woman brings income to her home, making me realize that specific situations where God instructs bring differing ways of how a woman’s role will look. In all my studying and research, though, I never found any scripture that stated, “a man must provide the money for the house or he ain’t no man!” I just couldn’t find it.
So, what did I find? I found the greatest commandment of all. I found where Jesus states that above all we are instructed to love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our strength, the second being to love our neighbor as ourselves. In this same vein of love I also came across one of my favorite readings in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13), and it states that without love, we are nothing. So how does that mingle with provision?
I can recall my first marriage. My spouse showered me with gifts, expensive jewelry, trips, and fancy dining. We were financially well off, and the world was my oyster. I lacked no “thing,” yet I never felt so less. I desired to feel beautiful, I craved affection, I grasped for a feeling of being deeply loved, but instead I just felt like a roommate. No offense intended to my ex, but he lacked in providing me with the love I needed. The diamonds made me feel loved for a moment, but they didn’t provide the deep affection my heart desired, a love that word, action, and deed provided. All this to say, a man can shower his wife with cash, but according to God, if it lacks love, it means nothing.
I think the world has perverted God’s design for provision. In a harsh world that does require things like food and shelter, we have somehow come to the idea that physical items like a paycheck and large home are all the requirements of provision, but if you’re going to provide for your wife like Jesus provides for the church, then more than a stack of benjamins must be taken into account.
If you’ve been in a loveless marriage then you know what I’m saying. If you’ve been in an abusive relationship you know what I mean. You can have a closet full of designer clothes, roses every day, and vacations to the Bahamas, but if he’s sleeping with his coworker, none of that matters. A woman’s heart requires more than the bills paid, and children require more than good shoes and food on the table. Those monetary provisions are required for life, but so is love if you want a fruitful, thriving life. Any adult who grew up with an absent father, always at work, will tell you a part of their heart is missing. I understand that financial provision is a necessity of life, but I’m just saying that I think we forget that’s not all there is. God does instruct the family on more than who should pay the bills. In fact, I think Jesus tells us not to worry about where our food and clothes will come from. First is love.
I sit out by the pool writing this post. My husband told me to hurry off and enjoy myself before the rain came.
“I’ll watch the girls. You need some time to yourself to relax,” he had said.
Talk about speaking my love language! As I went out the door happily I glanced back in his direction and said, “I love you.”
It wasn’t just the reciprocation of my words he gave me at that moment. I could see the adoration for me in the twinkle of his eyes and the smile on his face. I could feel it in his selfless actions, and I could feel it in my soul. I never doubted his love. I never doubted how beautiful he found me, even as I aged. The night before he had proclaimed it over and over after our intimate time together.
He followed the first commandment of Jesus, and then he followed the second. He loved me like Christ loved the church, and he provided for me daily. He provided love, loyalty, respect. He provided for the care and education of the children, and he provided for the upkeep and maintenance of our home. He provided as the head of our family, providing us with wisdom and leadership. He provided for us as a Godly example of selfless service and love. He provided for our stability, and was forever a calming force in every storm that came our way. He provided the spiritual leadership for our family, and he provided for every need that arose. Me? I was just the breadwinner, the financial provider at this time of our life, and I couldn’t find where scripture said that was wrong. I followed God’s teaching by holding up the arms of my strong husband as he provided for our family in countless ways. We were a team, built up in love, Christ centered, and abundant in the fruits of the spirit, not just something like a healthy bank account and excellent credit score.
So what does God say about husbands providing for their families?
“Ephesians 5:25 ESV – Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Jesus gave His life for His bride. Would your spouse do the same? Would he lay down his pride and the opinion of others to take on the role that he is most needed to fill for the best functioning of the family unit? Would he sacrifice tradition or public opinion to take on the tasks his family required the most? Would he lay down his own cross, place his wife before every other person, and give her his everything? Provision isn’t just a paycheck, sometimes it’s a life check, providing all the things a family needs, not just a steady income.
Some men show their love by working sunup to sundown. I know for years that’s what my husband did. But provision without love is meaningless. That’s what God would say. Provision is love, no matter how that love is displayed.