PSALM 8:4-9: “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalms 8:4-9 ESV
OBSERVATION: Is Christianity and environmentalism opposed to one another? Does the Bible teach the principles of conservation or exploitation? If you listen to the news reports the answer is a bit cloudy. However, if you consider the Biblical record the answer is quite clear.
I will never forget a class I took when I was finishing my degree in College. Somehow I came to the end of my degree program and discovered that I was short two science courses to graduate. Truth be told, science was not my favorite subject. In fact, I would rather take Greek than science. Be that as it may, I enrolled in two easy science courses at my local community college. The two courses were Astronomy and Man and the Environment.
The two courses had something in common. In both of these courses the professor had strong opinions about the Bible and Christianity. They were not favorable to say the least. Since I was older than most of the students in the classes I was the only one to speak in defense of my faith and the Biblical record. And when I did I referred to this Scripture, as well as the Genesis account. The Bible and Christianity do not teach the principles of exploitation. They teach the principles of stewardship!
There is prerequisite to this understanding. Unashamedly I believe the Bible is the Word of God without error, and I also believe that God created the world as reported in the Book of Genesis. This understanding of creation only heightens the call to stewardship. And the Psalmist agrees. When he considers all that has been placed into man’s care he utters – “…What is man that you are mindful of him…?”
God honored his creation of mankind by giving them the position of stewardship over His entire creation. If you think of this it is a pretty awesome and amazing thing. There is not another part of God’s creation that has been given this awesome responsibility. It is up to mankind to steward the entire earth. And his call to stewardship is one of personal responsibility and worship to His Creator. If we love our Creator we will also love His creation. This is the height of stewardship.
However, loving God’s creation is not worshipping it. God has given us His creation to steward and to use for the benefit of mankind. This means that it is alright to use all of the natural resources He has entrusted us for the benefit of mankind. Albeit, we are to use them in a responsible manner. Yet, we are still given the stewardship to use them.
- “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 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.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Genesis 1:27-31 ESV
This means that a true Biblical view of the stewardship of the earth is to use all that God has given us for the benefit of mankind. In this use we are not to abuse the earth, but we are to take care of it. To pollute and to pillage the earth are not Biblical tenets. However, neither is putting God’s creation above the benefit of mankind a Biblical tenet. The call is to use and steward the earth with balance and with compassion. Therefore, one who holds a truly Biblical view of stewardship is really the greatest conservationist of all. Why? Because he is stewarding the earth according to command and will of the Creator, not his own.
What we need in the discussion of conservation in our day and age is balance and common sense. Without a faith in God one is led to believe that man is in control of his environment rather than just a steward. The panic over climate change and the use of fossil fuels is simply the result of this view. However, if we truly believe that God is in control, and that we are just stewards, if we steward the resources of the earth in a responsible manner we have faith and confidence that God will provide. The responsible uses of these resources will not melt the icecaps, and if one resource runs out, the Lord will provide another.
This viewpoint will seem naive to some. They will accuse a position of faith as ignorance and putting one’s head in the sand. Yet, truth be told, to embrace theoretical positions such as evolution and climate change as hard fact, when there is so much missing empirical evidence, takes greater faith than trusting the Creator of the Universe and His Word. If I have to make a choice, I choose to trust in God! I choose to be a wise steward of the resources that He has entrusted to my care. And I choose to have confidence that until Jesus Christ returns He will continue to provide for His creation’s needs!
- “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:20-22 ESV
Lord, what is man that You are mindful of him? He is blessed to be given the high privilege and calling of steward of the earth.
In Jesus Name!