rebelling against low expectations

Biblical Stewardship vs. Worldly Sustainability


In the world today, sustainability is preached from the rooftops. There’s an urgency for people to take the earth’s health more seriously, even if that means going to extreme measures—like not having children or going months without washing your hair.

However, rather than just accept what the world says, let’s look at what God says about the earth and our role in caring for it in His Word.

Biblical Stewardship: Creator-centric Worship

God created the earth and everything in it. He created it for His glory!

Colossians 1:16 (NKJV) says, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”

Flowers don’t worry if rain will come or not. Birds don’t worry if they’ll be able to find food or not. They know it will be provided (Matthew 6). The heart of God is seen all over creation. All creation shouts the glory of its Maker!

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” – Psalm 19:1-4a

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” – Job 12:7-10

Scripture clearly points out that God is the Creator of all things, and He created them for His glory, especially mankind:

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” – Genesis 1:26-28

God desired to have a relationship with us where He could share Himself. We’re set apart and regarded higher in God’s sight from the rest of creation because we are made in His image. We’ve been given dominion over all creation.

It is in Genesis that we see the first role tasked to mankind: stewardship. The principle of stewardship was instituted at the creation of mankind, and the first thing we were assigned to manage was creation (Genesis 2:15). According to Merriam-Webster, ‘stewardship’ means “the office, duties, and obligations of a steward; the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”

After the fall and the flood, the call of stewardship changed a bit. God put the fear of man in every animal, and blessed Noah and his sons with meat (Genesis 9:1-3). But He gave very specific instructions on how to treat the animals they harvested (Genesis 9:4-5). Though God regards people higher, He still cares for the rest of His creation and considers how we treat land and animals, as He considers all words and deeds.

Look at it this way: God is the farmer, and we are the farmhands. A farmer cares about how his farmhands treat his fields and raise crops, and how they treat his animals. Proverbs 12:10-11 says, “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.”

Reading the Bible, we can find examples of good stewards. Abel and David looked after animals in a way that pleased God. Joseph and Daniel were good stewards and were renowned by their employers for their work ethics.

Through their examples we see that to steward the earth biblically means to care for the earth with respect and fear of the One who entrusted it to us, recognizing it and ourselves, as under His authority.

Worldly Sustainability: Creation-centric Worship

We now know what God has to say about the earth and our role in caring for it. So, what is the core difference between biblical stewardship and worldly sustainability?

Biblical stewardship elevates God, the Creator, above the earth, the creation.

Worldly sustainability elevates the earth above God.

We were made to worship our Creator, but our sinful nature is prone to worshipping His creation instead. If it’s not God we’re worshipping, it will be something else.

The earth has been idolized in our culture. Rather than Father God, it’s Mother Nature.

Romans 1:21-23, 25 says, “….because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. …..who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

Earth worship has been happening for centuries since the fall. Examples of groups who’ve practiced this include the Greeks, Wiccans, and various North American and South American tribes. It’s just as prevalent now as it was then.

Problems in the environment point to brokenness because of sin. We are sinful and inclined to disobey God. In addition to humanity’s brokenness, all creation is broken. Creation will never be perfectly balanced because of sin, just as we will never be perfect on this side of heaven.

Paul points out that creation waits for renewal in Romans 8:20-23: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”

We, as Christians, know the truth. Our hope is in Jesus Christ, and we rest in His promises. He’s coming back to rescue His bride, and to make all things right! This world is passing away! There will be a new heaven and a new earth! All will be made new!

Glory in the Creator, Not the Creation

Until Christ’s return, care for the land and animals (pets or farm animals) God has given you, giving thanks to the One who created it and owns it. Thank God for parks and wilderness areas! If you hunt or fish, do it in a humane, ethical manner. If you grow crops, do it in an ethical manner. Be a good steward over all God has given you and do it for the glory of God—not for the glory of His creation!

God holds all things together, and He loves us above all His creation! How can one not want to worship and serve Him? We can see in His creation, and in His Word, that He is an all-knowing, completely caring, entirely just, exceedingly generous, and supremely loving God.

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About the author

Grace Bennett

is a Midwestern college student who loves Jesus! She dreams of having a career in environmental research or outdoor recreation, pointing back to the God behind all creation. She loves backpacking, hiking, hunting, fishing, rock climbing, and canoeing. She also enjoys swing dancing, cooking, writing, and being with family and friends. With her wide range of interests, she prays to reach as many people as possible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!


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  • Great post!
    This is a message that is so needed. Otherwise, Christians like me who have concerns for the environment start to worry if they are getting involved in earth worship! I want to be a sustainable farmer, so this message is very personal to me. I appreciated how you tied so many related Scriptures together in a thoughtful manner.

  • This was a very good article, Grace! It is good to steward the earth and its resources in a conscientious way, but always remembering that God cares more about the people he has created than he does about his material creation. God intends for us to use his creation wisely and carefully for His glory, not ours.

  • Great message! We often need the reminder that although the earth is an absolutely awesome place, there is a breathtaking Being Who created all of it! And HE is Who we must praise, not the earth!

rebelling against low expectations

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