As we begin a brand new year, I share with you a message that I believe is so important that it surely bears repeating Being in the business of helping people understand the importance of caring for our world, we often hear the words “dominion” and “stewardship” brought up as referenced in the Bible. It seems there are differing opinions as to what these words mean as we apply them to our responsibility in caring for Planet Earth.
Scripture tells us that God is the creator of all things. He created the heavens and the earth, the waters and all creatures within, the birds of the air, the land and all that dwell upon it. Since the beginning of time, everything needed by man has been provided. Everything we need, and everything we’ve discovered or will discover in the future has been here since God created the world. As the creator, God is also the owner.
Once man was created, God showed Adam all the creations of heaven and earth and gave man dominion over them all. What does that mean? The definition of dominion is “the power or right of governing and controlling; sovereign authority.” Wow! That sounds like we have complete control and can do whatever we want to do! Animals, plants, the air we breathe, the water we drink, are all under our authority! So if we choose to use them for our pleasure without care, we have that authority, right?
Parents have authority over their children; however, we would never say that parents have the right to treat their children any way they please, would we? Authority comes with great responsibility.
Then there is that second word – stewardship. Stewardship is the careful and responsible management of something trusted to one’s care. If we believe that God is the creator of all things, then stewardship includes the careful and responsible management of this earth and all that dwells upon it.
When we treat our environment with selfish entitlement, we are acting as if we are the owner. An owner is responsible to himself. A steward, on the other hand, is responsible to the owner. If we believe that God is the owner of all things, then we will answer to God for our care of all He has entrusted to us. If we spoil it, waste it, trash it, harm it, or pollute it, we are failing in our responsibilities as good stewards and will answer for our actions or inactions.
It has also been said that “God will make the earth new, so it doesn’t matter what we do.” I have a pretty easy-going personality, but that statement really upsets me! Only God knows for how many more years this planet must sustain life. How selfish it is to feel free to trash it at the expense of future generations!
It is good stewardship to be aware of what harms our environment and to do what we can to avoid those things. It is also good stewardship to be aware of what helps the environment and to do those things to make our lives better.
A few simple examples would be to recycle all we can to protect our natural resources for future generations. Recycling also provides jobs right here in this community. We can learn to properly handle garden and other chemicals to protect our land and water from poisons. We should care for wildlife by doing no unnecessary harm or plant gardens that attract and feed butterflies and birds. We have taken so much of their habitat; it would be kind to provide a bit in return. We also have a responsibility to protect those domesticated animals we have invited to share our lives.
Let’s learn and understand how littering can injure and kill wildlife, poison our water supply, and pollute the oceans. We can learn more about the importance of trees and all they do to provide clean air, pollution control, fresh fruits and nuts, homes for wildlife, cooling of the earth, and so much more. Knowledge is key to knowing how to protect them. Maybe we could plant a garden to raise fresh, healthy food for our families, or to help feed those less fortunate.
We may not be able to do it all, but we should all do what we can.
I believe God will smile as each good steward passes on this respect for His creations by teaching others, especially our children, to do the same.
By: Lynne Hart
Executive Coordinator - Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful