Caring for God’s Ultimate Creation
Days five and six of the creation account were special: God made living, breathing creatures to move over the earth–in the sea and sky on the fifth day and over the land on the sixth. When we continue to consider how to care for God’s creation, we know the non-breathing aspects like vegetation, water, and heavenly bodies definitely have God’s fingerprints; it takes just a moment of watching the clouds move beyond the trees during sunrise to see that. But there is something special about God’s living creations. Even God Himself at the end of the sixth day said this day was very good.
It is obvious God cares deeply for animals. He uses them as examples for us time and time again: we learn about productivity from ants in Proverbs 6:6-8, about the providence of God from ravens in Matthew 6:25-34 and Luke 12:22-31, about humility from a variety of small and large animals in Proverbs 30:24-33, and more.
There are also Scriptures where God holds animals in high esteem.
In Exodus 23:5, the Israelites were instructed to save a fallen ox or donkey, even if it belonged to an enemy. In Isaiah 66:2-4, this prophet equated killing an ox to killing a man and used it as an antithesis to humility. Of course, in Numbers 22:22-35, God used Balaam’s donkey to point him in the right direction–the direction God originally told him to go. And in Matthew 10:29, Jesus says that not even a single sparrow falls to the earth without God knowing it.
There are things we can do in our daily lives to care for animals. Some people choose to live a vegan lifestyle in order to not support unethical treatment of animals, and I personally believe that can be very good! But you don’t have to be that drastic to care for animals. Some people try “meatless Mondays” for a start or abstain from buying animal products, like leather or fur.
If you have a pet, you probably care for it by keeping it healthy and giving it affection. But even of wild animals, just be mindful that God made them too, and they have a place and a function in God’s natural order. If an animal is invading your space (maybe you’ve got a pest problem in your home, or you find an animal in a place it shouldn’t be), instead of killing it, you might try re-homing it. You could use a catch-and-release mouse trap, toss the earthworm into the grass, carry the turtle to the other side of the road, etc. (Note that, of course, you may need to call a professional to do this if you think the animal might be dangerous.)
But in spite of the special place that animals clearly hold in the heart of God, Jesus continues in Matthew 29:31, “How much more valuable are you than the sparrows?”
On the sixth day, God didn’t just create animals; He finished His creation by making man. The intimate care God took to create people indicates a special place in the line of creation: humans were the ultimate creation, made in the image of God (1:26), filled with the breath of God (2:7), and chosen for salvation (Eph. 1:3-10).
Though texts like Psalm 36:6 and Ecclesiastes 3:18-21 can show that humans and animals are not that different (God created and judges over both, and both will eventually die), other texts like Job 35:10-11 and Luke 12:6-7 show that we are also worth more in the eyes of God. Yes, God loves the animals, but the Scriptures were not written for animals to understand how to be closer to Him. God created for us and wants to have a relationship with us, and the entire Bible is an account of that.
In the other parts of this series, we have looked at how to care for nature that God lovingly created as a gift for humans. It’s important to note after all this that caring for nature is caring for people because we are taking care of the environment–the temporary, earthly home that we all share.
The intimate care God took to create people indicates a special place in the line of creation: humans were the ultimate creation, made in the image of God, filled with the breath of God, and chosen for salvation.
Scripture talks over and over about caring for the basic physical needs of others as we go through life (Matt. 7:9, Jm. 1:27, 1 Jn. 3:17-18, 1 Tim. 5:8, Gal. 6:2, Matt. 25:40, Jm. 2:14-17, etc.), so we should care for each other in obvious ways by taking care of our fellow humans’ basic needs. Yet in Matthew 10:28, just before contrasting humans and sparrows, Jesus says that we should care more for the body and soul.
In order to truly care for God’s creation, we must care for the most important part of His best creation: the human soul.
In verse 27, Jesus says to proclaim from the housetops what He teaches. That is our mission, and that is our goal. As we go through life caring for the souls of others by sharing the good news of Jesus, we don’t have to sacrifice also caring for the environment. We can be good stewards of all of God’s creation.