Worse Than an Infidel
In I Timothy 5:8 is one of the strongest statements in the Bible: "If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever," (RSV). Or, as the King James has it, he is "worse than an infidel."
Looking at this closely, we will find just how condemnatory and severe this indictment really is. Applying this in a positive sense, we will see something of the magnitude of our responsibilities toward our families.
The church is to provide for real widows, those left all alone, who seek the Almighty with all their heart, are at least 60 years of age, having had only one husband, being well reported for good deeds, having brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saint’s feet, relieved the afflicted, and are devoted to doing good in every way.
But if a church widow has believing children or grandchildren, let them first learn their religious duty to their own family by helping to support their own widows. Thus the church as a whole, will be burdened with supporting only those widows in real need, I Timothy 5:3-16.
A Faithless Generation of Infidels
What is an infidel? The Greek word translated "infidel" is apistos, meaning "faithless, unbelieving, without faith." Some in the Messiah’s time were a "faithless and perverse generation" who refused to believe in His healing power, Matthew 17:14-21. The source of faith, He said, was prayer and fasting.
Those servants of His who refuse to believe in the soon-coming King, and live a wanton life, will be cut asunder, and punished as unbelievers, Luke 12:45-48.
A true believer is not to leave an unbelieving mate, I Corinthians 7:12-16. Satan has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious good news of the Messiah, should shine unto them, II Corinthians 4:4. True believers are not to voluntarily join, or yoke, themselves together with unbelievers, infidels, having no fellowship with unrighteousness, II Corinthians 6:14-15. To infidels, "them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled," Titus 1:15.
The end result of being an infidel is shown in Revelation 21:8, "But the fearful, and unbelieving . . . shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
These scriptures certainly show that an "infidel" is someone who is openly rejecting the true faith, not just someone who has never heard the truth. To be "worse than an infidel" is certainly a strong indictment.
A Worse Fate
The Greek word for "worse" is kiron. It is interesting to note that mainly it is used in referring to punishment, or lapsing into greater evils.
Matthew 12:43-45 refers to one who has a demon cast out of him, does nothing to grow in the truth, and receives seven new demons. Thus, "the last state of that man is worse than the first."
In our day, how true it is that "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived," II Timothy 3:13. If we sin willfully after having received the knowledge of the truth, we face much sorer punishment than those who despised Moses’ law, and died without mercy under two or three witnesses, Hebrews 10:26-29.
II Peter 2:20 tells us that once we escape the world’s pollutions through the knowledge of our Savior, and are again entangled therein, "the latter end is worse with them than the beginning."
Providing For One’s Own Family
What then, does it mean, "worse than an infidel"? From the above scriptures, it means one who has come into contact with the true faith, and fails to act upon it; is knowingly rejecting the true faith, and faces the lake of fire unless there is repentance. I Timothy 5:8 tells us that when one does not provide for his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.
What does it mean, "provide for your family"? There are three important areas that men and women should keep in mind in fulfilling their religious duty of providing for their families:
(1) Economic Support. The basic needs of food, clothing, and housing must be met adequately. This may be difficult in this age we live in, with inflation, unemployment, upset weather conditions and natural disasters. If the husband especially is not a diligent worker, as well as the wife, the economic needs of the family might not be met. As believers in the truth, it is best that we be neither rich nor poor, but merely content with the food and clothes we have, I Timothy 6:8, Philippians 4:11-12, concentrating instead on the work of the Master.
How some believers have failed to fulfil even basic economic support of their own families is hard to understand. Some are content with just barely making ends meet with nothing left over for hard times, while others needlessly squander what they make, and do not meet their responsibilities.
My heart bleeds for such, because of what the Bible says about them. If you are not adequately providing for your family’s economic support (when the fault is yours), you are on the road to denying the faith and being worse than an infidel!
Giving financial help to those who don’t work or who mismanage their money is the wrong thing to do, II Thessalonians 3:8-13. Basically, the slothful, lazy person is the same sort as the one who busily earns, and then wastes his possessions, Proverbs 18:9.
Providing for your family economically may include teaching your children to work, so when they are older, they will be able to support themselves.
(2) Social Support. "Bringing home the (kosher) bacon" is not all there is to providing for one’s family. Developing family cohesiveness and unity, close and happy family ties, is an essential part of providing for one’s family.
How many situations have you seen where the father spends all his time striving for economic superiority when the children are young? All the while, the marriage is strained, and the children are allowed to grow up by themselves. How many women today neglect their families by taking a job to get more money, when the family could do well enough on only the husband’s earnings? These situations ought not to be so among true believers.
The greatest external destroyer of the social fabric of the family is television. Those who slavishly "tune in" to it, abandoning their family, are violating the command to provide for their family.
The greatest internal destroyer of the family socially is divorce. Large Sabbath-keeping groups may say they believe in the commandments of the Eternal, but they all, to my knowledge, violate Matthew 5:32, and in effect promote or condone divorce and remarriage, which is adultery.
A happy family life, with a loving relationship between husband and wife, happy obedient children: this is providing for your family!
(3) Spiritual Support. The area of spiritual support is the most important of all. One may provide economic and social support, yet totally neglect vital spiritual support of his family. The husband has the key responsibility. Fathers are told to bring their children up "in the discipline and instruction of the Lord," Ephesians 6:4 (RSV). We are to train up our children in the way they should go, so effectively that it will stick with them throughout their whole lives, Proverbs 22:6.
Some people actually believe that it is wrong for the older generation to impart its religious values on the youth, but rather, it is best to let them grow up independently and choose their own paths of life. This Satanically-inspired idea has warped and twisted many families. Listen! The scripture above, plus may more, demonstrate that it is not only the church’s responsibility to spiritually instruct the youth. It is the parents’ responsibility to provide for their family in the area of spiritual knowledge. With this foundation, the youth have a proper basis for making life’s important decisions.
Many who have been in the faith for many years totally abandon any attempt at spiritual instruction of their own children. They may give the age-old excuse that their children were older when they, the parents, were converted. Some even use this excuse even though their children were born after they were converted. The parents may, themselves, spend hours studying the Bible, but find nothing therein to teach their children. Apparently the Eternal was strong enough to convert the parents, but not strong enough to convert the children through parental teaching. These misguided people believe in the Sabbaths of the Almighty, yet will not follow Exodus 20:8-11 which says that you, your family, even beasts of burden are to rest on the Holy Sabbath day. They allow their young or older children to do as they please on the Sabbath as long as it doesn’t interfere with their activities. All the while, claiming themselves to be holding fast to the true faith! Such are in danger of denying the faith, being worse than an infidel.
If one does not care enough for the truth to pass it on to his own children, how can such a person claim to love the truth at all? Parents have an awesome responsibility to teach and train their own children. A man called to the truth may not have an eloquent speaking voice nor a divine call to preach the word to others. But in his own family (his wife if he has no children) he has a divine calling, for which he will be judged. We who have the truth are the more responsible, Luke 12:42-48.
So, "providing for one’s own," I Timothy 5:8, includes many things, the most important of which is spiritual instruction. To fail to do such is to deny the faith, and be worse than an infidel.
The Greek word here for "provide" is pronoeo, used also in Romans 12:17 and II Corinthians 8:21, "providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." In providing for our family, we are to do it openly, in the Lord’s eyes, and also so that our fellowmen may also see. What a fine example it is to see a brother in the faith who has taught his children to likewise be obedient to the truth, as he is. What a tragedy to see a brother who doesn’t even care to teach his own children. His life is not an example to the world. Just the opposite, because others can point to his carnal children and say that this man’s religion is vain.
Denying the Faith
I Timothy 5:8 is not talking about someone merely denying the faith by renouncing the truth and returning to a life of sin. It is talking about someone who has refused to provide for his own family. Those who should be converted and carry on the truth are not provided for.
It is entirely true that the Almighty works through families. James and Jude, half-brothers of the Savior, and Joseph of Arimathea, His uncle, were leaders in the early church. Several of the disciples were brothers. There was the family of Lazarus. Mark was the cousin of Barnabas. This could only happen where someone was "providing" for their family’s spiritual instruction. As in the case of Timothy, he came to be a leading evangelist due, in great part, to the spiritual upbringing from childhood by his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois, II Timothy 1:5-8, 3:14-15.
As a student of, and writer of, Church of God, Seventh Day, history, I have continually noted how that the truth has been preserved through strong families, even today.
If the Eternal has called you, your children are sanctified, set apart for holy use unto Him, I Corinthians 7:14, a "godly seed" Malachi 2:14-16. You must provide for their spiritual support. Otherwise you are denying the faith. God made a covenant with Abraham because he knew he would train his descendants well, Genesis 18:19.
Matthew 10:32-39 has a very strong message. If we deny the faith before men, the Son will also deny us before His Father. How much more, if we deny Him before our families? If we stand up for the Creator, it may possibly provoke family strife. Nevertheless, we have a command to teach and instruct our families. See II Timothy 2:12-13, Revelation 2:13, 3:8.
According to Dr. Tim LaHaye, in his book, Battle for the Family, there are 15 most deadly enemies of your family:
2. Welfare State Government
3. Public School System
5. News Media
9. Easy Divorce
10. Women in the Work Force
13. Hard Rock Music
15. Ignorance of the Above.
So, let us not be infidels, refusing to provide for our own family. As the Master said to Thomas, "be not faithless (an infidel), but believing," John 20:27. If we really believe, let us pass the truth on down to the next generations. Let us not be "worse than an infidel."
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