April 10

Stewardship, Part 1

Ps. 100:3 Know that the Lord, He is God. It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Ps. 50:10a For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.

Haggai 2:8 “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine….”

Everything belongs to the Lord—everything! He’s not only Creator, but Owner. This is not a hard concept. So what’s the problem? The famous seagulls in Finding Nemo remind us: “Mine, mine, mine!” We have a hard time with God’s word in this area. We can theoretically agree that everything is His, but if we look deeper into the spiritual truths of ownership, we realize that if we are not owners, then we have another role.

We are stewards (those who manage another person’s property, finances, or household affairs). We are caretakers. That brings a change in perspective and a change of action. If someone else owns something, they get to decide how it’s used. Every resource is meant to be used in a way that reflects the owner’s interest. And a good steward finds out the owner’s intention. If you temporarily lent something to someone, wouldn’t you want them to use it according to your wishes?

If we use something that we know is not ours, we treat it differently than if it were our own—a car, a piece of jewelry, an article of clothing. We’re careful with it, and we consider it quite differently from those things we “own.”

First up, let’s talk about the earth. After creating man in His image, God said, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

Contrary to many a bumper sticker and the theology/philosophy of many, we don’t belong to the earth. The earth belongs to the Lord, and we are His stewards. He’s given us the call and the authority over the earth. But those who put the earth in the place of God have a point: There needs to be the same respect for our planet that we would give to anything lent to us for safe keeping.

Somewhere in the debate on climate change, global warming, fracking, or anything else lays a principle of stewardship. We are called to have dominion, but we are not called to pillage, strip areas bare or dump toxic chemicals. Yet the very idea of the earth being a better place if we weren’t here is an affront to God, who chose to create us in His image and put us here.

There used to be a principle of care called “conservation” a generation or two ago, a concept nearly lost in the political machinations surrounding weather and the proper use of natural resources. It’s a principle connected to stewardship, and it applies to nearly everything we have to take of.

Let’s soak in two ideas that the world doesn’t acknowledge or understand: We have dominion over the earth, not the other way around. That call brings with it a call to respect the earth as belonging to the Lord, which means we must approach our dominion responsibilities with humility and a desire for God’s wisdom.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to be more influenced by Your Word and Your thoughts more than the dialogue swirling around me. Thank You for the call to have dominion over the earth. Give me Your heart and Your mind to have proper dominion over the part of the earth You’ve put in my hands.

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