“Great spiritual blessings are promised to those who love and care for the earth and their fellow men and women.” Gérald Caussé
My nine-year-old son was disappointed yesterday when we were picking up trash. To celebrate Earth Day we had met with group of moms and their children in the park.
Armed with rubber gloves, trash bags and willing hearts we split up into groups to do our part to take care of the earth. My trio of moms and their kids headed up the canyon from the park. My son bounded up the path ahead of me, filled with excitement at the idea of cleaning up our community. About 1 mile into our trek, he was a little bit dispirited not because he was having to work hard, but because there was so little trash for him to pick up. His innate desire to care the planet is so strong that he was disheartened when he could not give the kind of service he had hoped to give.
Most humans are born with an instinctive love of nature. Before we came to earth we understood that God had created this magnificent world for us. We knew it was going to be our privilege and responsibility to be the caretakers of this earth. We knew that serving our planet would be a service to our God. Just like my son, we enthusiastically want to care for and enjoy the majesty of the earth.
Our interactions with the beauties of nature around us can produce some of the most inspiring and delightful experiences in life. The emotions we feel kindle within us a deep sense of gratitude for our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, who created this magnificent earth—with its mountains and streams, plants and animals—and our first parents, Adam and Eve.
The work of creation is not an end in itself. It is an integral part of God’s plan for His children. Its purpose is to provide the setting in which men and women may be tested, exercise their agency, find joy, and learn and progress so that they may one day return to the presence of their Creator and inherit eternal life.
These wonderful creations were prepared entirely for our benefit and are living proof of the love the Creator has for His children. The Lord declared, “Yea, all things which come of the earth … are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart.”
However, the divine gift of the Creation does not come without duties and responsibilities. These duties are best described by the concept of stewardship. Gérald Caussé
The inborn knowledge of our stewardship is what compels so many of us to be concerned when we see the resources of the earth being squandered. Our sense of responsibility to this planet is righteous and should be encouraged. To better serve the world, and the creatures in it, we need to understand the principles that govern our earthly stewardship.
First principle: The entire earth, including all life thereon, belongs to God.
The Creator has entrusted the earth’s resources and all forms of life to our care, but He retains full ownership. He said, “I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine.” All that is on the earth belongs to God, including our families, our physical bodies, and even our very lives.
Second principle: As stewards of God’s creations, we have a duty to honor and care for them.
As God’s children, we have received the charge to be stewards, caretakers, and guardians of His divine creations. The Lord said that He made “every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures.”
Our Heavenly Father allows us to use earthly resources according to our own free will. Yet our agency should not be interpreted as license to use or consume the riches of this world without wisdom or restraint. The Lord gave this admonition: “And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.”
President Russell M. Nelson once remarked: “As beneficiaries of the divine Creation, what shall we do? We should care for the earth, be wise stewards over it, and preserve it for future generations.”
Beyond being simply a scientific or political necessity, the care of the earth and of our natural environment is a sacred responsibility entrusted to us by God, which should fill us with a deep sense of duty and humility. It is also an integral component of our discipleship. How can we honor and love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ without honoring and loving Their creations?
There are many things that we can do—collectively and individually—to be good stewards. Considering our individual circumstances, each of us can use the bountiful resources of the earth more reverently and prudently. We can support community efforts to care for the earth. We can adopt personal lifestyles and behaviors that respect God’s creations and make our own living spaces tidier, more beautiful, and more inspirational.
Our stewardship over God’s creations also includes, at its pinnacle, a sacred duty to love, respect, and care for all human beings with whom we share the earth. They are sons and daughters of God, our sisters and our brothers, and their eternal happiness is the very purpose of the work of creation…
We must do our very best to protect and bring solace and relief to the weak, the needy, and all those who suffer or who are oppressed. Above all, the greatest gift of love we can offer our fellow men is to share with them the joy of the gospel and invite them to come unto their Savior through sacred covenants and ordinances.
Third principle: We are invited to participate in the work of creation.
The divine process of creation is not yet complete. Every day, God’s creations continue to grow, expand, and multiply. A most wonderful thing is that our Heavenly Father extends to us an invitation to participate in His creative work.
We participate in the work of creation whenever we cultivate the earth or add our own constructions to this world—as long as we show respect for God’s creations. Our contributions may be expressed through the creation of works of art, architecture, music, literature, and culture, which embellish our planet, quicken our senses, and brighten our lives. We also contribute through scientific and medical discoveries that preserve the earth and life upon it. President Thomas S. Monson summarized this concept with these beautiful words: “God left the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon … that man might know the joys and glories of creation.”
Among all of man’s achievements, none can equal the experience of becoming cocreators with God in giving life or in helping a child learn, grow, and thrive—whether it be as parents, teachers, or leaders, or in any other role. There is no stewardship more sacred, more fulfilling, and also more demanding than that of partnering with our Creator in providing physical bodies for His spirit children and then helping them reach their divine potential. Gérald Caussé
Along with the gift of this earth, God gave each of us our agency. We must choose how we will participate in the privileges and stewardship of this world. We can choose to see and appreciate the glory and grandeur of God’s creations. We can make our cities, neighborhoods and home beautiful. We can use only necessary resources to protect the spiritual and temporal blessings of nature. We can respect and reverence God’s creations. We can choose to love and serve our neighbors. We can delight in our families. Our worthy living will prepare the earth for its future and for the generations to come.