By Lucas Hagen, Crosswalk.com
It is no secret that humans can do a better job of caring for the planet on which we live.
The effects of industrialization and our burning of fossil fuels are easy to see, yet challenging to resolve. However, God has called humans to protect and steward the Earth. It is our responsibility to care for this world, rather than exploit it.
Here is what the Bible specifically says about our role to protect God’s creation.
1. Adam’s Primary Duty Was to Care for the Earth
Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”
Before the fall, in God’s perfect and untainted world, Adam’s role was to steward the garden and take care of it.
Even in a world that is not ravaged by sin, God’s first job that He gave to His beloved creatures was to take care of the land. Literally from the very beginning of creation, God has commanded and expected humans to care for it so that it can thrive.
Unfortunately, most people today live with a “not my responsibility” mindset. This is simply not acceptable for God’s people. God expects all of us to do what we can to protect His creation as much as possible.
2. The Land Does Not Belong to Us
One primary reason why we should seek to care for creation is that it does not belong to us. It belongs to God.
For many people, creation belonging to God is a perfect reason to not take care of it. Too many people only make an effort to care for what is their own, rather than honoring others by caring for what is theirs.
The Bible is explicit that the Earth does not belong to us, but belongs to God Himself. The following are three texts that could not be much more clear on this point:
Numbers 35:33-34 - You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the Lord dwell in the midst of the people of Israel.
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.
1 Corinthians 10:26 - For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.”
This wonderful, miraculous world that we live in is not our own. It belongs to God. We ought to honor God through the way we care for His creation. If we exploit and abuse the earth, we directly disrespect He who made it.
3. Creation Is Made to Glorify God
All things were created for God’s glory. This includes humans, land, oceans, animals, and everything else. Creation was designed to show people some of God’s nature and beauty, to point people to Him. However, when this creation is destroyed, manipulated, and abused, its ability to show people who God is is tainted.
For example, God is glorified by the beauty and majesty of a forest. However, it is much more challenging to see God’s beauty once that forest has been clear cut. We ought to seek to increase creation’s ability to glorify God, rather than using it for our own comfort and pleasure.
In Psalm 19, David speaks specifically of how creation glorifies God. Read his beautiful opening words,
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge (Ps 19:1-2).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Eachat
4. God’s Creation Is Meant to Be a Window into God’s Very Nature
Paul elaborates on this point in his letter to the Romans:
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 (Rom. 1:19-20).
Take note of Paul’s reasoning in this passage. Due to our observations of creation made on a daily basis, there is not a single human in the world who does not have some idea of certain aspects of God’s nature, no matter how vague or lucid those ideas may be.
The heavens are so effective at pointing people to God, that Paul goes so far as to say that there are none who can say that they know nothing about God. His eternal power and divine nature are on full display to the entire world all the time.
Does your lifestyle contribute to God revealing Himself through His creation, or does it detract from it? For many of us, the sad reality is that we have not done much to contribute to nature’s ability to display God’s glory. We have tarnished creation.
It is God’s desire that we no longer abuse and destroy His workmanship, but to assist Him in reaching His beloved humans through the created world.
5. Care for God’s Creation Is Evidence of Righteousness
Not only does care for God’s creation help for God to be glorified in this world, but it is also a sign of righteousness. The proverb reads, “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal” (Proverbs 12:10).
Why does the righteous man care for an animal? The righteous man recognizes that this animal is created and beloved by God. It would be an insult to God and a disgrace to abandon one of His creatures. This goes for not only animals, but land, water, etc. All of it is created by God and for God, and we show our holiness through our faithfulness to caring for what rightfully belongs to God.
Care for God’s creation is a shared responsibility among all humans, not just activists and scientists. It is our duty to steward well what God has gifted to us. Creation care done well can serve as an effective means for lost people to get a glimpse of who God is. Consider what small steps you can take to improve your care for God’s creation in your vicinity.
Whether it be reducing your material spending, reusing what you own, recycling whatever possible, or buying more organic produce, there are steps we can all take in order to better care for the world with which God has entrusted us.
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Lucas Hagen is a freelance writer, recently graduated from Taylor University with majors in Biblical Literature and Youth Ministries. When he is not writing for Crosswalk, you can find him reading great books, playing guitar, competing in professional disc golf tournaments, and spending quality time with his lovely wife, Natalie, and their fluffy cat, Woodward. You can read more of his writing at habitsofholiness.com.