I have been thinking a lot lately about biblical stewardship and natural resources. I thought I would share them and see what you all think.
Everything is God’s. Psalm 50:12b “. . . for the world is mine, and all that is in it.”
God gives individuals the right to steward resources under their control. In the Old Testament, individuals/families were given charge of the land. There were certain regulations they were to follow. For example, they were to leave the land fallow every 7th year. (Leviticus 25:4) So the people weren’t to treat the land willie-nillie, but they were given authority over it.
Handing things over to the government that God placed in the hands of individuals is a dangerous things to do. (See other posts on marriage and “Choices”.)
Being a good steward means using what God has entrusted to you. See the “Parable of the Talents” in Matthew 25:15 and following. Hoarding (accumulating for preservation) is not using. Wasting (consuming or employing without adequate return) is not using. Using indicates an immediate purpose.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Matthew 7:12) If you don’t want to drink polluted water, don’t pollute the water. I want to note here that the “others” in the passage above refers to people (as opposed to animals or plants). Not that I am against plants and animals. Some people just forget that there is a significant distinction.
God has designed natural systems all over the place. Messing with them is a bad idea. Demolish the wetlands that soak up surge around New Orleans and you get more devastation during Hurricane Katrina. I am not saying that was the only cause, but it was a factor. There are many other examples of people messing with God’s systems around the world.
So what are some ways that we can use the resources in our control in ways that please God?
1. To provide (food or money for food) for ourselves. (See Gen. 3)
2. To enjoy life. (I Timothy 6:17)
3. To allow the poor a source of work/income. In the Old Testament, those that owned land were to leave the corners for the poor. In America today, I am not sure how that would work.
4. To store up treasure in Heaven. (Matthew 6:19-20) One excellent way to do this (if you happen to be a farmer or rancher) is through STEER, inc. They provide the cow, you provide the work and feed, and a mission point gets the money. http://www.steerinc.com/
5. To observe God’s glory. Psalm 19:1
Of course these days, most people do not own significant amounts of land (along with indigenous plants/animals). And if you want to turn your lawn into a meadow, you’ll likely have to get a special permit from the city. In many western states the federal government (including reservations) owns most of the land. Check out the map here. That doesn’t take into account state owned lands.
So since we have handed so much of the land over to the government, what would an ideal government do with it.
1. Allow people to use it to provide more food/jobs for people. Some of the government land in the west is leased to ranchers. I think that drilling for oil and other ventures that help many people are also appropriate.
2. National parks are a great way to enjoy nature. They could also be great places to observe the glory of God, but don’t expect any help on that from the government.
3. Use the land in ways that don’t destroy the natural systems God has put in place.