Today God’s stewards find themselves in a world fraught with disease, fear, social upheaval, economic turmoil, and continual change. An unprecedented number of people have been abruptly limited in their activities, travels, and employment. How then, should God’s managers or stewards think and act? Has God given us guidance for the age we find ourselves in?
First, God’s people can take comfort and be grounded in the fact that the Lord our God is an unchanging God. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Psalm 102:27 assures us “But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” Yes, even as change and turmoil sweep the globe, God remains the unchanging I AM.
In many ways, these changing times afford God’s people an opportunity to evaluate their priorities and discern the essential from the frivolous. We have an opportunity to reaffirm the values that are deeply intrinsic to being a child of the King. One of those values is the idea that a child of the King is called to be a manager of the gifts that he or she has been given. So, let’s look again at the foundational elements of this call to stewardship. As we look at these principles we realize that stewardship is rooted in the very nature of who we are.
In Genesis 1:26–28 we read, “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
” Consider the following points about the responsibilities God has given us. We are:
- Image Bearers: As a reflection of the Master Creator, every person has within their essential nature the call to create and be productive. Whether in submission to God’s purposes or in rebellion, all of humanity is predisposed toward creativity and productivity. So we have a choice—bring glory to our Creator by utilizing the life and talents He gave us, or oppose Him with the work of our hands as we seek our own glory in defiance of the Creator.
- Regents: The second command given to Adam and Eve was to have dominion over the earth. God installed Adam and Eve as His vice-regents to rule over all of creation. It’s not that God granted ownership of the planet to humankind. It remains His possession. But God called Adam and Eve to exercise authority over the animals, plants, and the environment. They were not to exercise authority like a reckless tyrant, for God didn’t make Adam and Eve owners of the earth. He made them stewards of the earth, who were to act in His name for His glory.
- Keepers: God created a lush and gorgeous garden and placed Adam and Eve in it. In Genesis 2:15, He commanded them “to dress it and keep it.” This command to work and keep is key to understanding the responsibility given to human beings. The mandate God gave to humanity was for people to reflect and mirror God’s stewardship over His creation. This involves far more than mere religion or the church. It has to do with how we engage in scientific endeavors, how we treat each other, how we do business, how we treat animals, and how we treat the environment. This dominion over the earth is not a license to exploit, consume, or destroy the earth; it is a responsibility to exercise stewardship over the earth by “dressing and keeping” it. Dressing and keeping means preventing it from falling apart, keeping it orderly, maintaining it, preserving it, and making it beautiful. God didn’t say, “From now on, all your food will fall from the sky.” His desire is that we work with Him in being productive: dressing, tilling, planting and replenishing.
In changing times may God’s people be faithful image bearers. May we continue to steward the life, relationships, and resources He has given us. And, as any good gardener knows, changing seasons provide windows of opportunity to sow and cultivate truths that will bring rich harvests to the glory of God.
—Steve Yoder, CAM Foundation staff member