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Lesson 10: Stewardship and the Environment *

Introduction: "It's all going to burn." A young friend of mine would greet all bad news about his possessions with that statement. What happens to your stuff is unimportant, he thought, because it will ultimately be destroyed. Does that make sense to you? Is that the proper Christian attitude to have about possessions? Is that the attitude we should have about our stewardship of the earth? How about the care of our bodies? Let's jump into our study of the Bible and find out!

  1. Dominion

    1. Read Psalms 8:3-4. What is the logical answer to this question? (The logical answer is that "humans are unimportant." It makes no sense that God would care about us.)

    2. Read Psalms 8:5-8. What is God's actual answer to the previous question? (Against all logic, God made us "a little lower" than those in heaven, gave us great glory and honor, and gave us dominion over the earth. God is generous!)

    3. Think a moment about the original question: What reason does God have to be concerned about us? What does this suggest about the nature of our dominion over the earth? (Against logic, God cares for us. This suggests that we need to care for the less important things over which God gives us dominion.)

    4. Read Genesis 1:26. When were humans given dominion over the earth? (From the beginning.)

      1. Read Genesis 1:29. What is part of the dominion over the earth? (To eat from it.)

      2. Read Genesis 2:15. What is another part of the dominion over the earth? (To care for it.)

    5. Does the idea of both taking dominion over and taking care of the earth create some sort of conflict of interest? (My young daughter just leased a new car that is undisputedly better than mine! She has had four cars in her life: the first two I bought, and the last two she bought. I noticed that she took much better care of the cars she bought. This reflects the truth that we take better care of things we own, and even better care of things we worked hard to obtain. God gave us dominion over the earth in the hope that it would motivate us to take better care of it.)

    6. God has dominion over us and we have dominion over animals. God gave up His life for us. Should we be willing to give up our life for an animal? Should we consider animals to be our equal? (Read Genesis 9:1-3. This shows God's priorities. Since it is proper to eat an animal for the benefit of a human, it is proper to prefer humans over animals when their interests conflict.)

      1. Was there a necessary conflict here between humans and animals? Couldn't humans continue to be vegetarians, thus leaving animals alone?

      2. Notice again Genesis 9:2. Does this suggest a fundamental change in the relationship between humans and animals? (This was a protective measure for animals.)

    7. Read Exodus 20:8-11. Recall the tests in which you are required to pick out the thing that is different? If I listed a train, airplane, car, motorcycle and rake, which would be dissimilar?

      1. What is dissimilar in Exodus 20:10? (Animals. Everything else that is listed as not working on Sabbath is a human.)

        1. Why does God include animals? (This shows that God cares about the animals and we should as well as part of our dominion.)

  2. Prophecy Driving Stewardship

    1. Read 2 Peter 3:10. What is the future of the present earth? (Everything will be burned.)

    2. Read 2 Peter 3:11-13. Peter asks the question that we have in mind - in light of the future, how should we live now? What answer does Peter give? (We should be good people.)

      1. This suggests a focus on heavenly things, not on earthly things. How does our care for the earth fit into this? Is care for the earth just one of the "earthly things" that should not be of great interest to us? (Since God's instruction to humans at creation was to rule over the earth, it seems that is part of living a holy and godly life.)

    3. Read Romans 8:18-22. Why is the creation "groaning" and who is responsible for that? (The text says creation is in trouble "not by its own choice." Our choice is the cause of the problems faced by the creation.)

      1. To what is the creation looking forward to in the future?

      2. What does this suggest about our obligation towards the creation? (Read Romans 8:23. Humans and the creation are in this mess together. Together we look forward to a heaven and an earth made new. This suggests living now as we would live then.)

    4. Read Isaiah 11:6-7. Recall that in Genesis 9 an element of fear arose between animals and humans. What does this suggest about the future for the creation? (That in the earth made new animals and humans will live together without fear. While it is true that it is all going to burn, it is also true that God will restore the creation. That suggests we should live in anticipation of the restoration.)

  3. Health, Fitness and Diet

    1. Let's shift our focus. Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Is this text referring to diet, fitness and health?

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 and 1 Corinthians 6:18. These are the texts that provide the context for the discussion about our body being a temple. What is and is not being discussed? (Sex is being discussed. Food is not being discussed. Indeed, the context indicates that food is irrelevant to the discussion because "God will destroy [both food and stomach].")

    3. Read Matthew 15:8-11. What does Jesus teach about the importance of diet?

    4. Read Matthew 15:15-20. What are the important things in the life of a Christian?

    5. Read Romans 14:1-3. What does Paul teach about the importance of diet?

    6. Read Genesis 1:29. Recall that in our study last week we found that one of the very first things God discussed with humans was diet. We suggested that made diet important, have you changed your mind now?

    7. Re-read Genesis 9:3. Why does God prescribe what humans can eat? (It must have some importance.)

    8. Read Genesis 7:1-4, scan Leviticus 11 and read Leviticus 11:1. How long has God made a distinction between clean and unclean animals? (We see that God not only prohibits eating unclean animals, but that this distinction existed from before the flood.)

    9. Do we have a problem here? We saw that the "your body is a temple" is not a discussion about diet, we saw that both Jesus and Paul said negative things about a focus on what goes into the body, but we also read about God prescribing human diet from the very beginning, and that God has a very long-standing distinction between clean and unclean animals that impacts our diet. How should we resolve this apparent conflict? Is it a "New Testament" vs. "Old Testament" thing?

      1. Read Revelation 22:1-3. Is God concerned about our diet even in heaven - a place which transcends "New" vs "Old" Testament issues? (I think we need to put stewardship of our body in its proper place. Having a right relationship with God is our first priority. Diet is not a matter of righteousness, it is a matter of common sense, and we should not get this confused. God cares about our diet. He no doubt cares about fitness and health. But, we must not fall into the trap of the Pharisees (Matthew 15) and confuse common sense issues with moral issues.)

  4. Work

    1. Read Matthew 25:14-18. Why did the master give all of his servants something to do?

    2. Read Matthew 25:19-23. What does industry provide, according to Jesus? (Happiness! We share in the joy of God.)

    3. Read Matthew 25:24-30. We have a rising problem in the United States of a group of citizens who do not want to work. Where does laziness lead? (To unhappiness. Part of our stewardship is to be productive. We use the talents God has given us to advance God's interests and our own interests. This provides happiness.)

    4. Friend, God has given us many gifts, and put us in charge of the creation. As you consider the various aspects of stewardship that we discussed, are you failing in some area? Why not determine today that you will recommit to be a faithful steward of God?

  5. Next week: Sabbath: A Gift From Eden.
* Copr. 2013, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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