THE Bible is quite direct about the way man should live if he is truly loving God and respecting the way God creates and governs man. The Ten Commandments, of course, are a prime example of such specific counsel. These God-given rules apply clearly to human life, while underlying them is the divine demand that we respect God as the supreme Spirit, and man and all of creation as spiritual. One of my favorite Biblical examples of how we should live is Christ Jesus' parable of the unjust steward who had wasted his master's goods and was being called to account. One of the lessons apparent to me in this parable is that we need to take special care with what's entrusted to us. At the end of this parable, Jesus says, ``He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?''
Think of the applications here! Don't the conditions of our homes, for example, or the care of the air, water, and land, reflect our willingness and ability to be stewards of true, spiritual riches?
Good stewardship is natural when we recognize that creation is wholly spiritual. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, certainly loved the natural world. But she was always careful not to confuse this world with the God-derived intelligence underlying it. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she says, ``Nature voices natural, spiritual law and divine Love, but human belief misinterprets nature. Arctic regions, sunny tropics, giant hills, winged winds, mighty billows, verdant vales, festive flowers, and glorious heavens, -- all point to Mind, the spiritual intelligence they reflect.''
If creation were merely biological or natural in an animal sense, then haphazardness and randomness might be the rule. In such a case, our ability to preserve might be very doubtful. Even the best of intentions fall short if they are blind to the saving, all-powerful spiritual intelligence that ties everything together in perfect, spiritual harmony.
Just as man is the focus of God's creation, so is he the focus of good stewardship. Poor stewardship fails to express the care and intelligence that are really natural to God's man. Growth in our affection for the qualities of the man God creates, however, will without question make us better stewards.
We had a small but meaningful awakening to these facts in our own family. Our county government, like many others, is having quite a difficult time relocating its landfill. So the need to recycle is obvious and has been for some time. But our own attempts as a family to help in this effort were feeble at first. We knew what to do. But we just hadn't put forth the consistent effort necessary to do it. Then, it occurred to me that we needed to rely less on our own good intentions and more on the volition and vision that are naturally part of man as God's spiritual child. Stewardship, in this light, is not a temporary fad or something that has to be legislated, but it is a normal expression of the man God creates.
The spiritual vision of stewardship that I glimpsed had much to do with what I knew man to be. I knew this vision could reflect itself in what we did in our household. And it did!
We're still not perfect stewards by any means. But the lessons we've learned have had far-reaching impact on our lives because they are about man, not about trash. Stewardship is about preservation, certainly, but real, spiritual stewardship is much more than just preservation of the physical environment. It's the restoration of our feeling for the depth and love of God's man!