Genesis 1:28–31 (NIV)
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
In Monopoly, there’s a Chance card that reads, “You have been elected Chairman of the Board. Pay each player $50.” This strikes many folks as ridiculous. Shouldn’t the Chairman of the Board get to collect from each player instead of having to pay them?
But it’s not ridiculous; it’s an object lesson. Monopoly has an educational element to it. Leadership isn’t a privilege; it’s a responsibility.
When God commands us to rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground, He isn’t telling us to plunder His creation. We’re commanded to nurture it.
The Bible is filled with condemnations of greed, especially greedy leadership. Jesus taught just the opposite—servant leadership.
This connects to another lesson in this passage. When God finished creating the universe, He didn’t just say, “it was good.” He said, “it was very good.”
The world God gave us is worth treasuring.
The command to care for everything isn’t as specific as the command to care for widows and orphans, but it’s all over scripture. Abraham, Jacob and Joseph are all examples of excellent managers. The prodigal son of Luke 15 is a prime counterexample.
Caring for God’s creation isn’t just a good idea; it’s commanded in today’s passage. As ambassadors of God, caring for His creation reflects well on us and on our Lord. Just as charity opens hearts to the gospel, being good stewards of the Earth builds respect. Being bad stewards kills it. People notice.
So, just as Christians are commanded to love our neighbor, we should love our neighborhood. Good stewardship of our community, including the plants and animals, matters. It seems a stretch to think that a butterfly bush or a bird feeder in our backyard could have an impact on how we share the gospel, but it all counts. Beautiful things glorify God, sometimes in ways we cannot measure.
But our fallen sinful nature tends to interfere with our role as stewards. Every gift can be exploited, and our natural inclination is to just use it rather than nurture it for everyone’s benefit.
We need to recall God’s command to be stewards of our planet and fight our natural, sinful inclination.
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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here: https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community
The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here: https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.