God gives man stewardship over the earth

 

            Gen. 1:26 "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

 

            Lesser authority derives from the greater authority.  God has ownership rights over all creation.  Because he is Creator of all things he can do with all things as it pleases him.  God's creation of man and his giving of stewardship to man are contained in the same passage of scripture. It can be deduced that God made man among all of his creation capable of being a good steward of His creation.  None of the other species created had the unique abilities that God gave man. 

 

            God tied his making man in the image of God to his giving stewardship to man.  This seems to imply that man in his stewardship is to apply the same value and concern for that which he has stewardship over as the owner (God) of the creation does.  Thus, man is not to abuse his stewardship or treat it as having no value or to abuse that which he has stewardship over.  The most important job of a steward is to be faithful to his master.  He is to take the orders, standards, and rules of his master and be faithful in their application to the job given him.

 

            God told man to do five things with regard to the stewardship that he gave man over all the earth.  He told man to: be fruitful; multiply; replenish the earth; subdue it; and have dominion over the other living creatures. 

 

            To be fruitful can mean that man was to be fruitful in natural generation or it could mean that he was to be fruitful in his work as a steward of God's creation.  To be fruitful in natural generation does not seem to fit here because the next thing God told man was to multiply.  If it had meant that man was to be fruitful in natural generation then there was no need for the command to multiply.  However, fruitfulness in man's work as a steward implies that man is not to be lazy or slothful.  It also implies that man should be wise in his stewardship so as to get the wisest return from his efforts.   

 

            Next, God commanded the man to multiply.  To multiply means to bring forth in abundance.  Remember God only created one couple.  The rest came through natural generation.  The same time that man was multiplying, the other created species were multiplying also.  Our individual stewardship is limited by our individual abilities.  As the earthly creatures multiplied, the need for stewardship increased, thus there was a need for an increase of stewards. 

 

            Moreover, God commanded the man to replenish the earth.  Notice it does not say "replenish in the earth."  The scripture says "replenish the earth."  Replenish in the earth has an entirely different meaning to replenish the earth.  To replenish the earth carries with it the idea to make full use of the earth and its resources.  Now this does not mean that man is to be wasteful or to use the earth's resources unwisely.  God is not wasteful and God is certainly wise in all that he does.  Likewise in using the resources of the earth man is to be wise in his use and to be prudent in his stewardship of the earth's resources.

 

            The fourth thing God told man to do as a steward was to "subdue" the earth.  To subdue carries the idea that man is to bring the earth and its resources under his subjection.  Thus, the land and its resources are to be used as man's servants.  God does not abuse us as his servants; therefore, we are not to abuse the land and its resources as our servants.  As God provides for us, we are to provide good stewardship to the land and its resources.

 

            The fifth thing God told man to do as a steward was "have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."  The phrase, "have dominion," means to prevail against, reign over, or rule over.  There are times in which man has had to curtail the multiplication of certain species of animals for the good of mankind and for the good of other animals.  There are also times in which man has had to nurture the existence of certain animals for the good of mankind and for the good of other animals.  Animals are extremely useful in many ways.  However, to maximize their usefulness it is necessary that man be a wise steward of God's creation.  The indiscriminate killing of animals or the wiping out of animal species can cause very serious repercussions in the balance of nature.