In Ephesians 5:28-29, Paul instructs husbands to love their wives as they love their own bodies. It is not normal for someone to abuse themselves. Generally we do things to care for ourselves. We make sure that we are adequately fed and that we are not harmed. In the same manner, a husband is to both nourish and to cherish his wife.

The word “nourish” means to feed, support, maintain, or to care for another. In other words, it is the husband’s responsibility to see that his wife and family are adequately provided for. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Timothy 5:8). These verses do not mean that the husband is to be sole wage earner in a family, or even the main wage earner. However, it does place the responsibility for seeing that the family has sufficient income on the shoulders of the husband.

Such provisions cannot be gained by placing yourself first. I am sure there are a lot of fun and interesting things to do that must be placed on the back burner because your wife and children need caring provisions. I might dream of walking the Appalachian Trail from one end to the other for three months, but that will not put food on my family’s table. When you assume the role of a husband, you take on the responsibility to see that there is sufficient income to support your wife and children, even if it means giving up your dreams.

But it takes more than food and money to nourish a family. In Ephesians 6:4, Paul said, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The phrase “bring them up” is from the same Greek word for “nourish.” To bring up children properly, a father must provide for their spiritual and emotional well-being. A father must provide his children discipline – both positive and negative – so that they can mature to responsible adults. He must teach them the Lord’s ways so they will one day reach heaven. You can’t do these things while working 80 hour weeks away from your home. A husband and father must balance his time to bring the optimal nourishment to his dependents.

Just as a husband might not bring in all the income, the husband doesn’t do all the training. The teaching of children is a shared responsibility between the husband and the wife (Proverbs 6:20). However, come judgment day the fathers will give an accounting to God as to how well they provided for the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of their families.

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