God looked over everything He had made; it was so good, so very good! -Genesis 1
The earth is the Lord’s, & all it contains, the world, & those who dwell in it. – Psalm 24:1
Care (noun): the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something; serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk.
Care (verb): feel concern or interest; attach importance to something; look after and provide for the needs of.
A Biblical world view of stewardship can be consciously defined as: “Utilizing & managing all resources God provides for the glory of God & the betterment of His creation.”
In Genesis, the very first duty our Creator gave mankind was to tend & care for the Earth – to guard it, protect it, conserve it, & manage it wisely.
As a people of faith in God, we have even more of a moral & spiritual responsibility to steward this Earth than the secular world does, setting an example in environmental responsibility. But, somewhere along the way there has been a disconnect in our community & we have fallen short in our stewardship. Creation care & responsibility receives very little attention in Christian circles & the attention it does receive is often negative. It is viewed as a secular issue … or liberal agenda … or propaganda … or New Agey … or hippyish so Christians, in general, tend to shy away from it. This is wrong. It is Biblical to be prolife – to respect, promote, & protect the gift of life in the unborn AND the Earth & all its inhabitants. Don’t misunderstand me & think I am saying that the environment is as important as human life. What I am saying is that we must place value on all forms of life the way God intended us to govern the Earth.
As children of God, it is a Biblical principle & OUR sacred duty, given to us by God, to care for this Earth. When God delegated some of His authority to the human race, He expected us to steward it well, to be faithful & excellent in our responsibility for the environment & the other creatures that share our planet. We have not taken this responsibility seriously. We are the ones who should be setting the example in wise management, in living with care & respect for all life … human, animal, & the earth. By failing in this area that is very important in our world today & where we see the ravages of misuse, abuse, & greed every day, we have lost respect & an opportunity in an important platform to reach others with God’s loving care.
O Lord, what a variety of things You have made! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your creatures. Here is the ocean, vast & wide, teeming with life of every kind. Both large and small. – Psalm 104
Mankind is the crowning jewel of God’s creation. We are His image bearers. God’s edict for us – the chief of His creation, made in His very image – to have dominion over the Earth was never meant that we rule with an iron fist mentality. Do we honestly, deep down, without a doubt, believe it brings God glory & pleasure – that it enhances His creation – for us to take part in its exploitation, stripping, depleting, & scarring the land of its resources, destroying habitats & needlessly, but purposefully killing wildlife to make way for more concrete or to satisfy our desire for ease & convenience to consume more products when there are alternatives that do not cause so much harm? We may not participate directly in this abuse, but often times we do so indirectly by our defending these practices (“Well, God gave us dominion, so …”), by being unaware & supporting unethical companies who practice poor management when we purchase their products and by remaining silent on issues we know are wrong.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. – Hosea 4:6
It is shortsighted & not biblical to live in such a way that we are not educated or do not pay attention or simply do not care about what we are putting into our soil, into our water, into our air, down our drains at home, on our lawns, onto our bodies, & into our bodies (& then wonder why we are sick & unhealthy as a society, full of all sorts of cancers & diseases that never used to exist?) … that we cut down so many mature trees that help to clean our air of pollutants & produce oxygen, that provide shade, nutrients for our soil, & prevent erosion … that there is a serious biodiversity crisis going on with rapid loss of habitat & the endangering or extinction of species occurring by the day … or that people take pleasure in senselessly killing His creation … “The only good snake is a dead snake” or “They’re pests. There are plenty of them. I don’t like them. They deserve to die” as they use certain species as target practice. If we reflect on this, do we really believe He receives glory from this & that it brings Him pleasure in this behavior? Is this being a good steward?
When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money. – Native American saying
Take, for example, the use of palm oil which is found in over half of all packaged items in grocery stores. “Palm oil grows in tropical rainforests, & the uncontrolled clearing of these forests for conventional palm oil plantations has lead to widespread loss of these irreplaceable & biodiverse rich forests. Plantations have also been connected to the destruction of habitat of endangered species, including orangutans, tigers, elephants & rhinos.” (https://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/which-everyday-products-contain-palm-oil). We support & perpetuate this destruction by continuing to purchase products made from palm oil.
Or, for example, take a local issue we see all the time here in Colorado. The Front Range area is one of the fastest growing areas in America. Development is springing up left, right, & center. Open space is disappearing, mature trees cut down, habitats & ecosystems destroyed with lots & lots of concrete going in. Local keystone wildlife, like prairie dogs, face mass extermination on a daily basis in the cruelest of ways – a way that also happens to be toxic to our environment. They are buried alive, killed with phosphine gas to die an excruciating & agonizingly slow death. They don’t just go peacefully to sleep. Google Fumitoxin. It is truly awful. The prairie dogs that manage to dig their way out of their burrows are now exposed to predators like hawks, eagles, foxes, coyotes, snakes, etc., who will also then be poisoned from eating them. Burrowing owls, who live in prairie dog communities, often in old burrows, are also exposed to this toxin. The gas seeps down into our soil, down into the water table to come back & eventually hurt us in the end. With a little effort & expense, the wildlife can be relocated rather than cruelly & carelessly disposed of, without putting toxins into our environment, which would be the right & honorable thing to do but, in general, this is not what’s done, unfortunately. It is a profit over life mentality. It does not bring our Creator glory or pleasure. It does not think of the health of our future or help to heal an already hurting environment. We support & perpetuate this practice by thinking, “well, it doesn’t affect me personally so …” & by remaining silent & ignoring it.
I understand that this may very well be preaching to the choir, maybe only speaking to people who are already in tune & aware of what they contribute, but maybe it will cause one person out there who hasn’t thought about this before – hopefully more – to pause & think & reevaluate their personal stewardship in creation care & then maybe they will start trying to make small changes in their life that will help to make less of a negative impact & more of a beneficial one. It doesn’t have to be big, drastic changes. It can be as small as the choice to not use plastic bags when grocery shopping. Plastic bags are one of the biggest & more serious environmental problems we face and the solution is as simple as a small daily choice to not use one. The more of us who make this choice, the less the demand is to make plastic bags. This is how things change.
He gave us the duty to be caretakers – of one another & of our Earth & its creatures. That God created it & said it was good, shows its inherent value. That God was careful & deliberate in how He made this Earth shows us that we must not be careless in how we take care of it & manage it. That one big way He is revealed to the world is through nature, shows us that we cannot afford to be flippant in our approach to its care. The Bible reveals numerous examples of God’s nurture & care for His creation, the pleasure He takes in it & the glory He receives through it. As His image bearers, how can we do any less & not take this duty seriously? An added benefit is that it feels good & rewarding & purposeful to care & help make a more positive impact.
In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught. -Baba Dioum
Whenever I am afield or outdoors, there steals over me the acute consciousness that I am confronted on every hand by the superb workmanship of my Father. It is as if every tree, rock, river, flower, mountain, bird, or blade of grass has stamped upon it the indelible label, “MADE BY GOD”. – Phillip Keller
What can I do to be a better steward? Don’t be overwhelmed. Start with baby steps. Here are some ideas:
- Educate ourselves. Learn about the various environmental challenges our world faces. For example, learn about our plastic consumption & the horrific & very negative impact it is making on our world.
- Be aware of the type of products & food we’re consuming … putting on us & in us, putting down our drains & in our yards. Read the label. Be aware of the ingredients, where they come from, & the companies whose products harm animals and the environment and which ones give back.
- Shop locally & buy local produce that’s organic as much as possible. Buy “Fair Trade” products.
- Compost. It’s an excellent way to cut back on waste while contributing towards the health of the land.
- Be frugal & conservative with our use of electricity, water, & gas. Turn off the water when we’re brushing our teeth or washing our face. Take a shower instead of a bath. Wash our clothes in cold water & hang them outside to dry on warm days. Turn off the lights when we’re not in the room.
- Use reusable cloth towels instead of paper towels.
- Learn to identify local trees, plants, wildlife & birdlife around us. Plant more native trees & plants in our yards to attract local wildlife. When we truly begin to pay attention & learn about nature, we will feel more connected & appreciative & then it is not so easy to turn a blind eye to it. Let creatures like moles, groundhogs, prairie dogs & squirrels live instead of trapping & killing them. They may cause a little inconvenience in our garden, but they have a part to play in our region’s ecosystem.
- Don’t litter. And, pick up the litter you do come across.
- Speak up to companies who use toxins to mass exterminate wildlife to make way for development. You can do this with kindness & respect, without it being ugly.
- Support a group who works to conserve the environment & wildlife.
- Take your family & get out in nature. Visit national parks, national monuments, state parks, etc., & learn about our beautiful biodiverse world.
- When out hiking or camping, don’t disturb wild places like forests, beaches, wetlands & other areas where animals make their homes. When we visit such areas, stay on trails so we don’t accidentally cause damage to an animal’s habitat. Adapt the “Leave No Trace” principles.
Avoid the use of plastic where possible, especially single-use disposable plastic products like plastic bags, bottled water, straws & coffee cups. Bring your own mug to the coffee shop. Use a reusable canvas bag when you go shopping. Avoid products with heavy packaging. Females, we can make our periods waste-free to reduce the incredible amount of packaging that most pads & tampons are encased in. There are a number of non-disposable options available. For trash bags, there are a number of options. You can use compostable brown paper bags; recycled, compostable bags; or you can go naked, putting your trash in the can sans any bag & then rinse the can out each time you dump it for curbside pickup.
Single-Use Plastic Bag Facts
- Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.
- It only takes about 14 plastic bags for the equivalent of the gas required to drive one mile.
- Target gives away enough plastic bags a year to wrap around the Earth 7 times.
- The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.
- According to Waste Management, only 1 percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling. That means that the average family only recycles 15 bags a year; the rest ends up in landfills as litter.
- Up to 80 percent of ocean plastic pollution enters the ocean from land.
- At least 267 different species have been affected by plastic pollution in the ocean.
- 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually.
- One in three leatherback sea turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs.
- Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes.
- It takes 500 (or more) years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately the bags don’t break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.
Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man. – Stewart Udall