As a child I always loved animals. After begging my parents for a furry friend, my father purchased me a number of rabbits. I even named one after the Bible character Ruth. I remember holding them, caring for them, playing with them, and watching them run around and enjoy life. I loved to care for the little creatures I had come to acquire. Animals were a source of great joy and enchantment to me and continue to be to this day.
Gardening was another of my childhood delights. As a young child, I loved helping my mom and dad plant the garden, weed it and water it. One year I even grew a 50-pound pumpkin. I was extremely proud of that accomplishment. To this day, I enjoy getting dirt on my hands. It is a magical experience to put work in early in the spring and watch the garden grow.
There is something so rewarding about nurturing flora and fauna. What is it about animals that inspires profound love in our hearts? Why do we experience sadness in the fall when our prize pumpkin plant withers and dies?
I believe the Author of Life created within humanity the deep desire to care for and minister to our environment. We are created in His image. Coded within our DNA is a directive to nurture, cultivate and encourage. We were created to inhabit the earth, to be fruitful and multiply. We were also created to steward the earth and everything on it.
Genesis 1:28 says, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (ESV).
For some this passage has been used to justify a pillage and plunder methodology — a slash and burn approach. I argue this passage contains no license or authorization to exert dominance or exploitation. Rather, it describes humanity’s mandate to exercise stewardship over the earth on behalf of our Lord and our God.
The Andrews Study Bible describes the concept this way: “Human stewardship is multifaceted. It acknowledges God as the owner of all goods and source of all power. It includes the principles of service and accountability” (notes, p. 7).
God gave humanity this special assignment. We are called to care for this planet and the living things that inhabit it.
Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (ESV).
Other versions use the word "tend," but the word "work" encompasses part of our task. God tasked Adam with the important job of caring for our planet.
Humanity’s God-given task, our first job, was to tend God’s garden. Even before sin entered our world, God commanded humanity to engage in labor on His behalf. It is imperative we be good stewards of this planet, the home we have been given. We are tasked with true stewardship towards this earth and the human who inhabit it.
This means we care about this little planet of ours. I don’t believe this to be something that political powers can or should dictate; rather, this should be something we choose to do because we want to be faithful stewards of this physical planet we inhabit. It starts with each of us making wise decisions as much as we can to care, to steward this amazing planet.
Stewardship isn’t just about being ecofriendly. We are also tasked with providing spiritual stewardship. If we believe in God and follow Him in our lives, we are given the work of sharing that with others. Just as we would protect and care for our animals, just as we would water and weed our gardens, we are to provide this sort of stewardship to humanity. If we are cultivating a living, growing relationship with Jesus we can share the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness and self-control.
Our world is in desperate need of true stewardship: a care for humanity; a love for God that transforms our every thought, action and deed; a standing up for truth; a speaking against evil; a courage to guard those who can’t guard themselves; and a love for God that is our first priority.
Let’s go back to the beginning and remember God gave us a task to be true stewards of this earth and those dwelling on it.