Love God Love His Creation?

February 18, 2020


The Image


I saw an image on YouVersion Bible App earlier this week that bothered me.

The image showed an open Bible and a paraphrase of Colossians 3:2. On one side of the Bible was the part of the verse that said "think about the things of heaven" and, underneath that, a tiny drawing of a crown.  On the other side of the Bible was the part that said "not the things of earth."  Underneath that the artist had drawn a pine tree.

Please don't get me wrong.  I have no issue with Colossians 3:2 or the YouVersion app.  But to me, that little pine tree spoke to a larger issue.

The Scripture


So what does Colossians 3:2 actually say?

In the King James Version it reads:

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” 

And the New International Version:

"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."

In my opinion the NIV does a good job with this verse, making it clear that the earth that Paul is talking about has nothing to do with pine trees and everything to do with our earthly thoughts and concerns.  Not world, then, so much as worldly.

I do want to point out, however, that the King James isn't wrong. The Greek word translated as earth is gé (γῆ), a feminine noun meaning earth or land (and a non-poetic form of Gaia Γῆ).  But the NIV isn't wrong either per Strong's: 

gḗ – properly, the physical earth; (figuratively) the arena we live in which operates in space and time which God uses to prepare us for eternity. (emphasis added)

It is just one of those things that medieval KJV readers would have immediately understood while some of us might not.

Why This Matters


So why does it matter if an online graphic appears to be saying that we shouldn't be concerned with the earth?  Or if people who give the KJV a quick read might get the same impression? Or if a long list of industrialists and politicians have used a narrow reading of the Bible to justify their own irresponsibility.

To me it matters because the Bible talks a lot about stewardship and stewardship implies protection and improvement as much as it does utilization.  According to Charles Bugg (in the Holman Bible Dictionary) stewardship is the act of "utilizing and managing all resources God provides for the glory of God and the betterment of His creation."

I think that it matters most because when we misuse creation, we fail to glorify the creator.

Personal Application


Last week when it was unseasonably warm, spring fever hit me harder than I expected. I couldn't wait to start my tomatoes. I ordered four new varieties of medicinal herb seed. I devoted my nursing CEUs to a Nurse Herbalism course and contacted Sage Mountain about their Science and Art of Herbalism program. 

Tonight I am reordering my medicinal herb cupboard. Tomorrow I will check the tomatoes. And as soon as the wind dies down I'm going to start clearing the gardens which are mess because I have NOT been a particularly good steward these last few years. 

But God has been calling me to correct that. And I think I'm finally ready to listen.

But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. - Job 12:7-10 (KJV)

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