Stewardship—what does that word mean to you? Many churches now have stewardship ministries that typically focus on one tangible aspect of Godly stewardship: finances.
But let’s take a moment and consider the wider scope of stewardship.
A steward is one who manages what belongs to another, in the way the owner desires the possession to be managed. Psalm 24:1 (ESV) says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”
If we fully realize that God owns everything and we own nothing, then we must realize that all of creation has been laid before us with the directive to steward it well.
Genesis 1:26-30 (ESV): “Then 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 birds of the heavens and over the livestock and 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. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so.”
These passages resonate deeply in my heart as a homesteading pastor. And they bring great grief. Why?
Look at how we have corrupted the patterns of creation, for our own benefit, our own greed, our own comforts and desires. We have massive industries that run nearly every part of our lives. We take it for granted, not realizing how frail and dependent we have become. Every component is so interwoven that even if one component fails, the system collapses.
Less than 100 years ago, much of the economy was local. There was industry, but most knew how to grow food and work together to survive. On a small, urban homestead, my grandfather provided for his family during very tough times by raising chickens and growing a garden. They grew more than they needed, enough to share with neighbors. During the Great Depression, the systems failed, but a resilient people linked arms and survived.
These were a people who understood stewardship was more than finances. Stewardship, then and now, involves everything. We steward our time, our talent and our treasure. We steward our families, relationships and so much more. We are compelled by God to steward the Gospel, proclaiming the Good News to all of creation. We should steward our health, eating right and exercising.
And while I would not consider myself in the secular mindset of an environmentalist, I am deeply entrenched in the belief that we have a global and local responsibility toward God’s creation. I would encourage everyone in the difficult times that many expect are ahead to think globally by acting locally. Let me explain.
There are those who fret about climate change, global warming, methane gas from cows, the plight of whales and lions and tigers and bears (oh my!). Complaints and antagonist rhetoric will not help. If you believe there are global issues or tough times ahead, might I suggest that you shut up and do something!
Grow a garden. Raise a few chickens for eggs. Plant some trees. Buy from local farmers. Stop eating processed food. Eat amazing, beautiful, delicious, locally grown whole foods. Build a local economy. The more localized we become, the more united as a people we will become.
Imagine if God’s people would steward the directives from Scripture to love God, our neighbors and our enemies.
So, get off your rusty dusty, plant that garden and change the world (one person at a time).
To God be the glory!