With every gift comes demand and with every blessing comes responsibility.
These were truths that were repeatedly noted in a class I took under Baptist New Testament scholar Frank Stagg many years ago in seminary.
His words have had a huge influence on my life. They helped me learn early on that there is indeed a price that comes with blessings. When we receive God’s blessings, we must use them wisely and responsibly.
I have thought about these words in recent days as my wife and I prepare to move into our new home.
Owning a home is an incredible blessing, something a lot of us unfortunately take for granted.
The blessing of home ownership, however, also comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility.
There are monthly payments to make, occasional repairs to be made, regular cleaning to be done, yards to keep up and, from time to time, improvements to make.
In the end, you cannot enjoy the blessing of home ownership unless you are willing to take on the responsibilities that come with it.
As I spent some time thinking about these things, my mind began to drift in other directions.
I thought about how the earth is also our home and how incredibly blessed we are to have a home that meets our needs and, at the same time, contains so much beauty.
This home is God’s gift to us; that is something the Bible reminds us of over and over again.
What many fail to realize is that with this gift comes demand and with such a blessing comes great responsibility.
Over the years, I’ve heard some Christians say that we needn’t worry about the earth too much as it is only our temporary home. I see no wisdom whatsoever in such an attitude.
I certainly realize that the Bible speaks of “a new heaven and a new earth” (see Revelation 21) to come, but that does not in any way minimize the responsibility that comes to us now with the blessing that is our current home.
We must tend to the needs of the earth just as we must tend to the needs of the homes we live in.
If I do not do the things I mentioned above at my new home, I will either lose it or its value will be severely diminished.
We pay a great price when we fail to take care of and be responsible with our homes. That is true when it comes to caring for the earth as well.
We have already paid a tremendous price for our failure to care for God’s creation and that price will only grow exponentially if we do not begin to live with the understanding that with gift comes demand and with blessing comes responsibility.
Christians who see no need to care for the earth because it is only our temporary home exhibit a selfishness to which they seem to be blind.
They fail to realize, first, that this world does not belong to us; it belongs to God (Psalm 24:1). Because we don’t own the earth, we have no right to trash it or fail to care for it, as our landowner desires.
They fail to realize, second, that there will likely be a number of generations that will follow us and that how we treat the earth now will determine the kind of home they will inherit.
One of the first books I read about creation care was Robert Parham’s book, “Loving Neighbors Across Time.”
As the title implies, by caring for the earth we show love for neighbors who have not yet even been born.
We cannot think about only ourselves, not if we intend to be followers of Jesus.
Even when it comes to caring for the earth, we must be thinking of those who will follow us. That is our responsibility.
I hope you will give some thought to the invaluable lesson Frank Stagg taught me almost 35 years ago: With gift comes demand and with blessing comes responsibility.
It is a truth that applies to all areas of our lives, including God’s gift of the good earth.
Chuck Summers is a pastor of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Henderson, Kentucky. He is also a photographer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines and calendars; he has published three photography books. A version of this article first appeared on Seeing Creation, a blog Summers co-authors with Rob Sheppard, and is used with permission.
Chuck Summers is a pastor of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Henderson, Kentucky.