What does this make you think of? The second of the ten listed in Exodus 20 about not making and worshiping idols? Maybe you think of Jesus’ reply to which is the most important commandment in Matthew 22: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (NLT)
Both are completely valid responses to which is the second commandment, but I’m going to take a different angle. In the first chapter of the Bible, in the book of Genesis, God gave Adam some directives. After telling him to be fruitful and multiply, God said, “I make you trustees of My estate, so care for My creation and rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that roams across the earth.” (v 28, The Voice)
What does trustee mean?
Trustee [truh-stee]: noun
1. a person, usually one of a body of persons, appointed to administer the affairs of a company, institution, etc.
2. a person who holds the title to property for the benefit of another.
Humanity is guilty of acting as though this planet is our personal playground rather than something we are caring for on someone else’s behalf.
Let’s bring this to a human level that might be easier to understand. Imagine for a moment that you’ve come into a bit of money and want to spend it on fixing up a space for your teen. You think about her actual needs, such as a bed and a bathroom, but you go beyond that to make it match her personality, her interests, and her wildest dreams. When you are done, this space is inviting and breathtakingly beautiful. An undeniable masterpiece all her friends wish was their own. And we say, “take good care of it!”
At first she seems grateful. Thrilled, even. But as time goes by, she covers the walls with foul words and graffiti. She chops up the furniture to build a bonfire, filling the air with toxic smoke. A horde of stinky rats invades, desecrating what remains.
Then your teen says to you, “Thanks for everything, Mom and Dad! I love you so much.”
You look from her to the room behind her and back to her. Which do you believe? Her words? Or her actions?
In a similar way, God has created a stunningly beautiful planet for us. It’s not a gift for us, exactly. It’s still owned by God (just as our teen’s room is still owned by us), but given over to us to take care of. How do we say thank you?
If we say we love God — if we tell Him thanks for all He has done for us — are our words matching our actions, or do they ring hollow because we are busily desecrating His gift? His command was simple enough: “Care for my creation.”
Are we responding in obedience to the second commandment God spoke to humans? How can we show respect and gratefulness to God as we engage with His creation and the planet we are trustees of?