Peninsula Community Church
June 8, 2014
Stewardship – Stewardship of God’s Creation
Genesis 1:26-28 “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 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.”
In recent years we have heard much news on the environment, global warming, and climate change. We know that billions of dollars have been spent to attempt to evade what some are calling a cataclysmic problem that could destroy the world, as we know it. Proponents of these ideas continue to press the issue by pushing for less coal production, less oil drilling, less gas extractions by concentrating on more natural energy sources such as wind mills and solar panels. While all of this is a valiant effort, it seems to me that little has changed with the climate, although there has already been a large amount of money spent, jobs lost, and prices have drastically increased.
While we may argue the validity of such claims, the point is we do have a level of responsibly to properly steward the earth and the creation of God. But we must do so in a way that is balanced and Biblically based. The fact is, God has created the world and everything in it. By way of God’s creation, we find that creation itself points us to God and in so doing creation proclaims the glory of God. The intricacies of creation point to a God who is the creator, sustainer, and protector of the earth and His creation.
Romans 1:19-20 verifies this. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. We also find confirmation of this in Colossians 1:16-17. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
To fully understand the stewardship of creation, we are reminded that God is the creator of all things in heaven and on earth. The undeniable fact is, He is the creator; and He has ultimate ownership of all things. This is confirmed throughout Scripture and particularly by the Psalmist in Psalms 24:1-2. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.”
While God created the heavens and the earth, He also created mankind to be intricately involved in creation. Man was not designed to be a passive bystander but he was to be involved. We must understand that God created man to steward His creation. As we have noted before, man gets to enjoy the creation of God, to honor God through our use of what God created, and we have the privilege of using God’s creation to point to people to Christ, glorify God, and to expand the kingdom of God.
In our passage, we find there are three things that speak to man’s stewardship of God’s creation. First, as a steward of God’s creation, man has been called to be fruitful and multiply. This concept coincides with the parable of the talents. The servants who were complimented were complimented for multiplying their talents. Mankind was called to populate the earth and to multiply what they had been given. The debate is not about how many children you may have but whether you are multiplying what you have. The fact, is God is blessing families and He is blessing the idea of children.
Second, man was to subdue the earth. Man was to rule the earth under the direction of God and according to the laws of God. As we look at society today, we find that man wants to rule the earth without understanding the laws of God, and they do so without obedience to God. Too often this leads to worshipping the earth, but there is a big difference between ruling the earth and worshipping the earth. People, today, are fulfilling the warnings of Romans 1 in unprecedented ways. There is no doubt that people have succumbed to creation worship rather than God worship. The result is a devaluing of man and God. Secondly, when we put the earth, trees, and other living things on equal footing with God, we have created a problem for ourselves and for others. When this occurs, we are in fact minimizing God’s purpose for man and we in fact are devaluing God. Now, let me be clear about something. Our view of God does not change who God is or what God purposes for our lives. It does, however, change how we interact with God and how we do what we do for God. You see it is about our understanding of God and not about God, as God does not change.
You see Paul warned the Christians of Rome about the potential to worship the creation at the expense of worshipping the creator. This kind of worship falls within two extremes. First, there is materialism. Through materialism people are motivated by greed and natural problems are resolved redistribution of resources. The earth is in essence destroyed for personal gain. We do so without any concern of glorifying God but solely for personal gain.
The second extreme is to believe that God is in everything and is a part of everything. We call this Pantheism. Pantheism is the belief that God is the chair, the tree, the ocean, or the dog. To believe this and to propagate this idea is to minimize the character and grandeur of God. People revere nature to the degree that nature is not allowed to be used for anything at all for everything is sacred.
Third, man was to have dominion over the animals. The animal kingdom was created to serve mankind. When Adam was placed in the garden, he was to tend and care for the garden according to the standards God had established. Adam was to work. Adam was to plant. Adam was to harvest the crops. Adam was to tend to the animals and the plants in the garden. You see the Garden of Eden was not an absence of work. This was evidence by the fact that we believe that work was not hard because they not experienced a fallen creation. Some Christians have a faulty view of this idea of dominion. They use dominion as an opportunity to destroy the earth and do whatever they want to with the earth, without any responsibility. Still others promote the act of dominion as the authorization for Christians to take over the world, take over kingdoms, and build a kingdom here on earth.
In Genesis 2:15, we find that man’s mandate was to work the garden and to keep it. Man was not to destroy the earth by doing whatever he chose. He was not to have dominion by way of setting up a kingdom here because God’s kingdom is not of this world. From the beginning of time, God’s plan was for man to work and to steward the gift of God’s creation. Do we need to take care of the earth? Absolutely, yes! Any good farmer knows that if you do not tend to the ground that you plant, your productivity will be reduced. Throughout the Old Testament, we see God establish natural laws that guide us as to how we are to tend for God’s creation. For example, when God created the heavens and the earth, He modeled the need to rest and to be revitalized. While we have been placed on the earth to care for the earth, we must never place a higher value on the environment that we do on mankind, who inhabits, subdues, and has dominion over it.
Through our discussion, we are reminded that God is the creator of all things. But we are also reminded that sin has destroyed God’s original intent for mankind and for God’s creation. Because of the sin and the failure of mankind, the earth has become corrupted. Not only is there a curse on man but there is a curse on the earth. It is for that reason, we see that the earth and the creation of God is awaiting the coming of the final and complete redemption by way of Christ’s 2nd coming. But here’s the problem, when mankind sinned the very ground was cursed. Instead of work being a joy, it was now labor. Man now had to work by the sweat of his brow. He had to deal with weeds and thorns that challenged his labor. This is confirmed by Paul’s words in Romans 8:22-23. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
So how do we live this out? First, we take only what we will use. When I was growing up my dad was a hunter. His rule was this, what you shoot you eat. We never hunted for sport, we hunted for food. The same was true of fishing. We would fish for food and not sport. He did not know what catch and release was.
Second, we plant and restore what we have destroyed. Once again when we were kids my brother was a member of the 4-H Club. He purchased hundreds of pine trees which we took to my grandfather’s house where we planted them. Why? Because my grandfather was a lumberjack and he had a desire to replenish the land.
Third, this means what we possess we need to take care of. What is the condition of your car? What is the condition of your home? Are you a good steward of what you possess? Do you treat what you have as if it is owned by God. Once again, I remember my dad’s rule was that if we borrowed something from someone, we were to return it in better shape than we borrowed it. He wanted us to understand that we were stewards of what we were borrowing.
And lastly, how are you using what you have been given to glorify God and expand the kingdom of God? We have all been given a part of God’s creation and how we steward that speaks to who we are and what we are about.
So how are you doing? If there are things that need to change, we can do so by the power of the Holy Spirit and through making choices which honor God.
Visit www.pccministry.org for the audio version of this message. Note that the notes presented here and the audio message with vary in detail.
Copyright 2014 © All Rights Reserved, Robert W. Odom