Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind. (Job 38:4-4,12:7-10)
I went to see the popular kids' film Babe in theaters when it came out in 1995. At the time I was a mere seven years old, so of course, I was enraptured with the narrative, rooting for the cute little piggy to avoid becoming Thanksgiving dinner for the farmer and his family. While I'm sure there were children like me who went home grappling with, "perhaps I should become a vegetarian" after realizing that cute little piggies mean bacon, pork, and sausage, what really jarred me in the film was a scene involving the farmer and his grand-children. Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell) spends exacting care in crafting a dollhouse for his granddaughter. We see the meticulous creation and placement of each structural and decorative piece, paint and wood finish being applied carefully. The result is something breath-taking. However, when his granddaughter shreds the wrapping paper off it Christmas Day, she shrieks in terror, "It's the wrong one! I wanted the one on the television!" I remember being so upset; How could this girl be so ungrateful!?
Today, I think we are very similar in how we view the world God has created for us, and it all started at the beginning. Adam and Eve, if given a profession, would be described as the original grounds-keepers, as "the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (Genesis 2:15, NIV). God even brought "all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky" to Adam to name as yet another gift to enjoy. God entrusted Adam and Eve to be good stewards of his gift of creation, "God blessed them and said to them, [...] fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground" after crowning his majestic creation with the creation of themselves: mankind (Genesis 1:28). But, Adam and Eve doubted his perfect gift and disobeyed his command not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. Not only is this the first sin, but it is also the first misuse of His gifts.
When we see the sunset or the beautiful blooms that surround us this time of year, it is easy to take them for granted when we see them "every day". When we throw away our trash and it is taken by a truck, it is easy to take it for granted the clean water and air in homes when the trash is out of sight. When we see a person illegally standing in the median begging for money, it's easy to take our own blessings for granted when we pass judgment on their lack of following the rules. When convenience helps us accomplish more, it's easy to ignore conscientiousness and care in our daily, menial tasks.
Stewardship is defined as "the job of supervising or taking care of something, such as an organization or property." Jesus is clear that those who follow Him and love Him will "keep my commands," and He teaches that "everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (John 14:15, Luke 12:48). Psalm 24:1 proclaims, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it." It's clear: careful stewardship of what God has entrusted to each of us--your talents and blessings, your relationships, your legacy, your property, our earth and all His creatures--is not optional for those who respect and glorify God!
We often think of conversion stories like that of Paul or a former drug addict as the best qualifier for a life of repentance and Gospel-living, but, many of us have gained the Holy Spirit not because of such dramatic changes, but because of the people and moments in our lives that the Lord has used to bring us to Himself. We forget that how we tend to the "little stuff" is what characterizes us just as much as the big, dramatic conversions. When we take the time to "reduce, reuse, recycle" in hopes of leaving a better future for our children's children, or when we hold the door for a stranger, or when we stop to let the mama duck and her babies cross the road, we show that His love has permeated all our priorities to keep His Greatest Commandments to, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" and to, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37, 39). What better way than by treating His gift of creation--fellow man, creature, and earth--with utmost care, respect, and stewardship?