Paul takes this specific concern for widows and draws a universal principle. He understands that, as Christians, we are obligated to provide materially not only for widows but also for those in our immediate household and extended family. Failure to live out the gospel in this way is equivalent to denying the faith and living worse than a pagan.
Simply put, material provision for your family is ultimately a spiritual matter. Even today, unbelievers and our secular culture recognize this obligation. Fathers who fail to provide for their families are degradingly referred to as “deadbeat dads.” This description has applications much broader than simply failing to give child support to your ex-wife. It applies to the hardworking man of wealth who squanders his money on frivolous spending, jeopardizing his family’s security and not considering their needs first. It applies to the decision of purchasing a house two sizes too big while showing no support for a sibling struggling to make ends meet. As Jesus says, “If a man tells his father or his mother, ‘Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban’ (that is, given to God),” then he makes void the Word of God (Mark 7:11–12).
What a terrible thing it is for a father who has the means and opportunity to provide for his children, or a son for his elderly parents, or a brother for his sibling, or a husband for his wife, if he neglects to do so. The only thing worse would be if this man also called himself a follower of Christ. For Paul, and more importantly, for God, that is much worse. Heads of households must meet the material needs of their families. This duty carries spiritual ramifications of the utmost degree.