Loving God (6)
The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness… Psalm 24.1
The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s;
But the earth He has given to the children of men. Psalm 115.16
Believers in Jesus Christ have been saved to do good works (Eph. 2.8-10). We are to be zealous for good works, and to be ready to do and maintain good works as part of our lived witness for Christ (Tit. 2.14; 3.1, 8, 14; Acts 1.8). The question arises, to which this study is dedicated: “Which Works?” We have seen that, following the example of Jesus, we are called to do works of love for God and for our neighbor, following the direction of God’s Word, beginning in His Law.
In this part of our study we’re considering those works that enable us to show love for God, and to increase in love for Him. Loving the Presence of God, and His Word and salvation, are fundamental to growing in love for Him Who has called us to His Kingdom and glory, and given us His Word and salvation. Here we want to consider one further way of loving God: We love God when we love His creation.
At first glance, the texts we’ve selected for this installment may seem contradictory. The earth is the Lord’s; but the earth has been given to the children of men. They are actually complementary rather than contradictory.
The earth is the Lord’s because He made it, and He upholds it by His Word of power (Gen. 1.1; Jn. 1.1-3; Heb. 1.3). The vast cosmos in all its parts, including the earth, only continues to exist, and all its patterns and interactions to continue, because Jesus Christ holds it all together (Col. 1.16, 17). The cosmos belongs to Jesus Christ, and it is His to do with as He pleases.
Happily, it pleases Him to entrust the earth to the children of men. We have been placed as stewards over the creation (Gen. 1.26-28). By looking to Jesus and being transformed into His image, we may take up the works that enable us to bring all of creation under His feet, so that creation in all its parts might realize the full fruitfulness of the reconciliation Jesus has accomplished for it (Heb. 2.5-9; 2 Cor. 5.17-21).
All who love God and His Presence, Word, and salvation, will take up the work of restoring the reconciled creation for the glory of God. And this will take the form of our loving God by loving the creation He has entrusted to us. We can think of this in terms of five specific good works.
First, God intends us to enjoy the creation. He has made the world beautiful, diverse, delightful, and full of wonders to provide an environment in which we might thrive as His servants. The creation does not exist merely for us to use, consume, abuse, and abandon. We love God when we marvel at the amazing displays of wisdom, beauty, and power that fill the creation, and as we reflect on how these declare the glory of God for our consideration (Ps. 19.1-4).
Delighting in the creation comes naturally to us: a spring shower, a summer’s day at the beach, the many and varied forms of food, the colors of fall, the sublimity of a winter snow storm, the breathtaking beauty of a sunset or a soaring eagle, the sweet and diverse melodies of song birds: All these are to be enjoyed by us as God’s stewards; and, as we enjoy them, we give thanks to God Who surrounds us with so much delight.
Creation is one of the most obvious of God’s works; thus, as we grow in enjoying it, we will want to study it more intimately (Ps. 111.2). Adam showed the way in this by teaching us the value of naming the creatures. Each bird, wildflower, insect, cloud pattern, body of water, and so forth has a name; and the names of creatures tell us something about them. We show God that we love Him and are grateful for the delight with which He surrounds us, as we learn the names of His creatures, and give Him specific thanks and praise for each one.
But learning names is just the beginning. From here we may take up any number of deeper studies designed to allow us to probe the wonders and mysteries of creation more deeply. Books, online courses, apps for your phone, and many other resources are available to help you grow in love for God’s creation. As you do, you show our Father that you love Him for giving us the earth and entrusting it to our understanding and care.
We love God by cultivating and caring for His creation (Ps. 8.6). This is what it means to exercise dominion over the creatures of the earth (Gen. 1.26-28; Ps. 8). We do not abuse the creation; rather, we apply ourselves to the kind of stewardship and works that enable each of the earth’s creature to realize its purpose and role in the divine economy. The Law of God, together with other passages of Scripture, teaches us to be wise in how we care for creation, lest we abuse this great gift of God (cf. Deut. 22.9).
Large issues of environmental stewardship come into question here, but we cannot explore them in this space. Each of us can do something to nurture the creation, if only in how we take care of our yard, keep a garden and share its blessings, or tend to house plants and pets. We cultivate God’s creation when we learn about its many foods and discover new, wholesome, and delicious ways to prepare them. We love God as we receive the gift of creation He entrusts to each one of us, and apply ourselves through various good works to cultivate the creation for maximum fecundity.
We love God when we follow His guidelines for how we should work to conserve the creation. The Law of God teaches us to think carefully about how we use the resources of creation (cf. Deut. 22.6, 7; Deut. 20.19, 20). We must not allow our lust to cause us to put the creation at risk. In the Law of God, the land was to enjoy a sabbath rest every seven years, so that the soil could replenish itself. Farmers today understand the importance of crop rotation and of replenishing their soil in various ways. Conservation movements and societies afford many opportunities for Christians to show their love for God by working to conserve the gift of creation.
Finally, we show God that we love Him when we share His creation with others, by pointing out the glory that God has concealed in everyday creatures (Ps. 19.1-4; Prov. 25.2; Hab. 2.14; Ps. 148). Some of the best of English poetry has shown us the power of celebrating creation to the glory of God. The more we enjoy and study creation, and are careful to cultivate and conserve it, the readier we will be for the good work of helping others to appreciate God’s creation, and to see His glory in it as well.
Loving God by loving His creation offers daily opportunities for doing good works that show the glory of God and benefit ourselves and others. A wide variety of good works awaits us as we commit ourselves to loving God by enjoying, studying, cultivating, caring for, and conserving those aspects of creation He has entrusted to us.
1. Which aspects of the creation has God entrusted to you?
2. What could you do to increase your understanding and enjoyment of the creation entrusted to you?
3. How could loving God’s creation help you to be more consistent as a witness for Christ?
Next steps – Transformation: Make a list of every aspect of creation that comes into your purview today. Thank God for it; delight in each aspect; and consider ways of growing in your understanding of creation.
T. M. Moore
One way to add reading and meditation in the Law to your daily devotional life is to download A Kingdom Catechism, which contains 135 questions and answers to help you make better lawful use of God’s Law in your daily life (click here).
For additional insight to the contemporary relevance of God’s Law, download the three studies in our Scriptorium series, “The Law of God: Miscellanies” by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.