Honoring God’s creation by caring for the Earth

Honoring God’s creation by caring for the Earth

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Earth Day is celebrated every April 22nd. 

And it is an internationally recognized day to pause and appreciate the amazing planet we all call home. As we were watching a natural documentary as part of homeschool today, I began thinking about how truly astonishing this world is — and tragically how quickly we are destroying it.

As Christians, God calls us to be good stewards of His creation. But what does that really mean? And how does it relate to Earth Day? Let’s grab a quick review of what the Bible teaches about caring for the earth, environment, and animals.

In the Beginning

The Bible opens with an amazing origin story. In the very beginning, God created a world of beauty and harmony, where everything was good. “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth’; and it was so.” (Genesis 1:11) 

After making the plants, God created the animals to roam the lands and waters (Genesis 1:20-25). Finally, on the sixth day, God created people to tend the garden and have dominion over all living things (Genesis 1:26-28). 

According to the Scriptures, it was at that point that God gave humanity the responsibility of being caretakers of the world around us.

However, sin entered the world and disrupted God’s perfect design. Sin warped people into selfish, greedy beings. This selfishness is seen in many aspects of human nature, but most especially in our insatiable need to exploit the earth for personal gain instead of nurturing it. Plants, animals, forests, soils, waters, and air have suffered from millennia of human greed and neglect. And it has only ramped up to extraordinary portions in the last two hundred years.

But God still expects us to value and care for His handiwork. As managers of His creation, we will be held accountable. Take a quick peek at Revelation 11:18 for an ominous warning for those who “those who destroy the earth”.

Caring for other people

In the New Testament, Jesus demonstrated compassion for those who were often ignored or despised by the society of the day. He cherished children, healed the sick, fellowshipped with the outcasts, and even fed the multitudes using a few loaves and fish.

In fact, there are countless examples from the Scriptures that teach us how we should treat other people. I cannot possibly cover them in this brief article. However, the principles can be summed up in the words of Jesus. “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (NASB)

Caring for other people also includes how we treat the environment we share. Do we take more than our fair share of the resources? What about sharing with our neighbors and those less fortunate by donating food, money, or time? Do we encourage reusing clothing, household items, and other items that are still in good condition? What else can we do?

Caring for the animals

But now what about the animals? The Bible is filled with guidance regarding respect for nature and the animals we share this amazing planet with.

In Noah’s day, the Lord instructed him to bring two of every living animal onto the ark to keep them alive during the flood (Genesis 6:19-20). Afterward, God made a covenant with both man and beast, promising to never again cut off all flesh by the waters of a flood (Genesis 9:9-17). 

The Levitical laws of the clean and unclean animals — basically, which animals were ok to eat and which were not — is a very fascinating study. (See Leviticus 11.) If you look closely at the list of animals deemed unclean and therefore unfit to eat, you’ll notice most of them are either predators or scavengers. These are animals that play crucial roles in keeping the world’s ecosystems in balance.

Treating animals well is important. So important that you can find guidelines for acceptable treatment in various places throughout the Bible. Proverbs 12:10 states very clearly: “A righteous man regards the life of his animal.” Throughout Scripture, God commanded people to treat domestic animals like oxen, sheep, and donkeys with compassion and given rest on the Sabbath day — like His people (Exodus 23:12). 

Even the tiny sparrows are precious to God, and not one falls to the ground without His knowledge (Matthew 10:29). As His children, we, too, must value and protect the wild and domesticated animals He has made.

Caring for the Earth

The Earth itself — along with its natural resources such as the air, waters, forests, minerals, gasses, and more — is also to be respected and cared for.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that the whole earth groans under the weight of human sin, eagerly awaiting redemption (Romans 8:19-23). If that wasn’t a fitting metaphor for how callously the human race has treated this planet and its resources, I don’t know what is. 

We cut down forests at an alarming rate and strip mined mountains turning gorgeous landscapes into dystopian hellscapes. We use and permanently pollute valuable (and limited) water to frack natural gas from the bowels of the planet. 

And we mine every last precious metal and gemstone we can with little regard for life — human and animal. Our unquenchable need for oil has led to one man-caused natural disaster after another, devastating entire ecosystems.

This is not good stewardship. Mirriam-Webster defines stewardship as “​​the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”

We have a responsibility to respect and care for the world until that glorious day when Christ restores creation to perfection.

Celebrate God’s Creation with Gratitude

So on this Earth Day and every day after, let’s celebrate God’s creation with gratitude and renew our commitment to be good stewards. As we can see from Scripture, caring for the earth is not optional — it is a mandate.

Get started right now with these practical ideas:

  • Reduce consumption of single-use plastics by carrying reusable bags and bottles
  • Recycle paper, glass, and metals properly
  • Pick up litter when you see it
  • Walk or bike instead of driving when possible
  • Plant trees, flowers, or an edible garden
  • Donate to care for animals in shelters or preserves
  • Write to local leaders about protecting green spaces
  • Most of all, pray for wisdom to honor God as a faithful manager of His creation!

Also check out other eco-friendly ways to cherish our earthly home.

Psalm 24:1 reminds us, “The earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.” When we care for the land, air, waters, plants, and creatures, we are ultimately worshipping the Creator. 

May our attitude and actions bring glory to God’s magnificent name.

And may Earth Day be every day.

Honoring God's Creation by Caring for the Earth overlaid on a field that is half dead and half alive.

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