Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stewardship and the Environment

Due to extenuating circumstances no audio version today.  Sorry for any inconvenience.  Following is the audio script.  

Stewardship and the Environment 

Memory Text: “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth’ “(Genesis 1:28, NKJV).

This week we continue with the more intangible things that God created during the fall, but continue to this day.  This week we study Stewardship.  The term steward is defines as the manager of household or of household affairs 1a) esp. a steward, manager, superintendent (whether free-born or as was usually the case, a freed-man or a slave) to whom the head of the house or proprietor has entrusted the management of his affairs, the care of receipts and expenditures, and the duty of dealing out the proper portion to every servant and even to the children not yet of age.  Other uses of the word include: 1. the manager of a farm or landed estate, an overseer; 2. A treasurer; and 3, as a metaphor referring to the apostles and other Christian teachers and bishops and overseers. 

As we can see the steward works for the owner.  They work to do the owners will.  What we get from our study is that whether good or bad, faithful or unfaithful, wise or wicked, all men are stewards.  The reason for this is that we do not own anything.  The Lord says that, “all the earth is mine” (Exodus 19: 5).  Being that we are part of the earth, we do not own ourselves.  Something Paul echoes in,

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Ellen G. White expounds on this in Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 326-327.

“All men have been bought with this infinite price. By pouring the whole treasury of heaven into this world, by giving us in Christ all heaven, God has purchased the will, the affections, the mind, the soul, of every human being. Whether believers or unbelievers, all men are the Lord's property. All are called to do service for Him, and for the manner in which they have met this claim, all will be required to render an account at the great judgment day.”

This has implications for our health.  We read Again from Ellen White two quotes regarding the importance of health and stewardship.  Let us read them,

“Let none who profess godliness regard with indifference the health of the body, and flatter themselves that intemperance is no sin, and will not affect their spirituality. A close sympathy exists between the physical and the moral nature. The standard of virtue is elevated or degraded by the physical habits. Excessive eating of the best of food will produce a morbid condition of the moral feelings. And if the food is not the most healthful, the effects will be still more injurious. Any habit which does not promote healthful action in the human system degrades the higher and nobler faculties. Wrong habits of eating and drinking lead to errors in thought and action. Indulgence of appetite strengthens the animal propensities, giving them the ascendency over the mental and spiritual powers.” COL p. 326 - 327
“Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” is the language of the apostle Peter. Many regard this warning as applicable only to the licentious; but is has a broader meaning. It guards against every injurious gratification of appetite or passion. It is a most forcible warning against the use of such stimulants and narcotics as tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, and morphine. These indulgences may well be classed among the lusts that exert a pernicious influence upon moral character. The earlier these hurtful habits are formed, the more firmly will they hold their victim in slavery to lust, and the more certainly will they lower the standard of spirituality. “ Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, Jan. 25, 1881

So, our health is so much dependent on what we eat, drink and breathe, the taking care of those resources – air, food, and water - is important.  Animals are also implicated, since they also use those aforementioned resources, and furthermore, many assist in making those resources useful to us.  Many animals are useful to us also.  According to Ellen White, abusing animals is not only immoral and criminal, it is a sin.  Let us read,

“It is because of man's sin that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together" (Romans 8:22). Suffering and death were thus entailed, not only upon the human race, but upon the animals. Surely, then, it becomes man to seek to lighten, instead of increasing, the weight of suffering which his transgression has brought upon God's creatures. He who will abuse animals because he has them in his power is both a coward and a tyrant.
A disposition to cause pain, whether to our fellowmen or to the brute creation, is satanic. Many do not realize that their cruelty will ever be known, because the poor dumb animals cannot reveal it. But could the eyes of these men be opened, as were those of Balaam, they would see an angel of God standing as a witness to testify against them in the courts above. A record goes up to heaven, and a day is coming when judgment will be pronounced against those who abuse God's creatures.”--PP 443 (1890). {2MCP 514}

Continuing with the topic of abuse: we see in the parable of the wise and the wicked servant, that the latter abuses his fellow servants.  It is not so with the wise one.  Taking care of others is a primordial goal of a good steward.  In fact, those who did so in Matthew 25: 31 - 46, were commended for helping others in need.  For which Christ said that relieving others of their suffering is relieving Him of His suffering.  Ellen White says,

“Christ's followers have been redeemed for service. Our Lord teaches that the true object of life is ministry. Christ Himself was a worker, and to all His followers He gives the law of service--service to God and to their fellow men. Here Christ has presented to the world a higher conception of life than they had ever known. By living to minister for others, man is brought into connection with Christ. The law of service becomes the connecting link which binds us to God and to our fellow men.”
To His servants Christ commits "His goods"--something to be put to use for Him. He gives "to every man his work." Each has his place in the eternal plan of heaven. Each is to work in co-operation with Christ for the salvation of souls. Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God.  (COL 326 – 327). 

As we can see stewardship is much more than finances.  In fact, it so much more than the focus of our lesson.  But, this lesson gives us a glimpse.