From kids in school to powerful world leaders, more and more people are talking about environmental concerns, like global warming. According to recent studies, over half of the people in the United States are worried about climate change, and people in other countries are even more concerned about the potential for global environmental changes.
But we have learned from Scripture how to live a more abundant life, which includes both:
To learn how we relate to our natural environment, we can look to both science and to God’s Word to see how we can be mindful of our local and global environment and how to take action based upon what we believe.
First, let’s get something straight. Who or, more accurately, what is God? I ask that, because by clearly understanding what God is, we can, secondly, understand God’s creation and our relationship to our environment.
It’s enlightening to know what God is—the invisible Source of all life.
Blessed, Not Fearful
It’s important to understand that God wants us to be blessed in life, not fearful about the environment and its changes. Several verses illustrate ways that Spirit showers us with blessings by way of creation, such as the following verses from Psalm 104.
Psalms 104:13-14 says, “He watereth the hills from his chambers. The earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man that he may bring forth food out of the earth.” Spirit is the source of all life.
Psalms 104:24-25 says, “How manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all. The earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.” We are very blessed to live on such an amazing planet filled with abundant life.
Our attitude toward environmental concerns do not need to be based on fear.
Psalms 46:1-3, we read, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.”
So, even if the mountains tremble and the waters roar and swell, we do not have to be fearful. We can remain strong and safe.
In the Old Testament, there’s a story about a great flood in the days of Noah. After the flood, God promised that never again would a flood destroy Earth. This promise was established with a rainbow. When rainbows sometimes appear after a rainfall, they may remind us of this story, of the promise of care and protection, and that our world can be preserved and cared for.
In Genesis 9:12-15, we read, “And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations. I do set my bow [rainbow] in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow [rainbow] shall be seen in the cloud. And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.” My daughter and I saw a rainbow in a recent rain shower. It was beautiful and a good reminder.
Once we understand what God’s Word says about environmental concerns, we can make proper decisions on how to take action and steward the natural resources that have been provided us by making decisions that are motivated out of love and thankfulness rather than out of fear.
Even though there’s a heavenly-rainbow promise to protect the earth, we should still do our part in caring for our home. In Genesis there’s another story of how the first person was formed, made, and created. Man was put in the garden of Eden “to dress it and to keep it."
Genesis 2:7-8 says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” This verse reminds me that my body is made out of the stuff that our world is made out of. Our bodies are about 60-70% water. The Earth surface is covered with about 70% water. Our bodies and our environment both have: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, sodium, iron, and magnesium. Every living thing (me, bees, grass, cattle) is made up of carbon.
One of the worst things you can do to yourself is to believe that you’re not part of your environment—that you’re somehow separate.
Martin Luther said that God is not just in the Bible, but is also found in the trees, the flowers, the clouds, and the stars. In the crisp, clean air of Boulder, Colorado, you can see the stars almost every night. The stars are amazing. They remind us of how vast God's presence is - not just throughout the universe, but also within each of us.
Genesis 2:15 says, “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” And that verse means that man (men, women, children, people) was to labor or serve in the garden, to diligently protect it, to oversee and preserve it.
I have a garden in my backyard. My wife loves to plant vegetables, flowers, and plants. That garden is well taken care of. It flourishes. Filled with life and beauty. And it provides for us -- along with the worms, birds, bees, bacteria, butterflies, bunny rabbits, and slugs -- with things that are needed for life. We take care of that garden, not out of fear of losing it, but out of thankfulness for what’s available with some effort. Today, we have to provide diligent care and protection for our gardens all over the world, our natural resources, and environment.
Think of something valuable that you own. When we think of something as being valuable, we will take care of it. Have you ever been given something really valuable? A new bike. A new phone. A new skirt. When we have that valuable thing in our possession, we take really good care of it. We protect it. We even guard it. Why? Because we want that thing to continue to provide for us and meet our needs.
Psalms 119:129 says, "Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep [guard, protect] them."
Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep [guard, protect] thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
This kind of thinking contributes to prosperity (success, flourishing, thriving, abundance). In Proverbs 21:5, it says, “The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness….” Which means that when we think, plan, and are mindful of what’s going on (attentive and persistent), what results is abundance and plenty.
To Use Resources
In Genesis, God explains that the purpose of various plants and animals is to benefit humans. God intends for us to use the resources of the earth for our profit. In Genesis 1:29, we read, “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” In Genesis 9:3, it says, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”
This creation, our Earth, our environment and world, is here for us to live within, enjoy, and take care of. We come from it. And it is in us. And, therefore, we have a moral duty not to neglect or squander the natural resources that have been provided to us. How well we take care of the place in which we live is a direct reflection on how well we take care of ourselves.
The Founding President of The Way International, Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille, wrote the following in his publication The Lifestyle of a Believer: “Living in this world, we have to take this world as we find it and resolutely endeavor to act as virtuously as possible in every situation, striving always to choose the better of two or more alternatives and to make it a better world in which to live.”
We have the privilege and responsibility to determine how we are going to steward natural resources, based on the condition of the environment in which we live and the time we are able to devote to it.
As we face environmental concerns of our own or those of others, we can remember the stories of how God has provided everything we need to live an abundant life. We don’t have to live in fear. Our world can be kept like a treasure. We come from the Earth. We’re made of the same stuff as the dirt, the plants, the animals and even the stars. If we are mindful of what we have, and take care of what we have been given, with thanksgiving, what results is plenty and abundant.
You may also be interested in reading The Root of All Fear, and a short video about Climate Change by Ben Gromicko.