Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created, and he established them for ever and ever— he issued a decree that will never pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the Lord.
The battle we fight on behalf of creation as steward warriors is being waged right in front of us every day. We don’t have to go looking for this conflict, it is brought to our door and thrown in our face almost constantly. Watch TV, surf the internet, even leaf through your snail mail and you will be bombarded with the value and urgency of owning more stuff. Second only to sex, what sells is money and the happiness it promises. Your freedom in this forth sphere will require daily vigilance. Let down your guard for a moment, and the old nature within us will rise up and entice us to play the owner once again. Remember the words of Paul, “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1.
It is not enough just to maintain our own freedom. As challenging as that will be, we were set free to share that freedom with others. The most powerful expression of that freedom will come from how we live. The great preacher and theologian Charles Spurgeon wrote, “A man’s life is always more forcible than his speech. When men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as dollars and his words as pennies. If his life and doctrine disagree, the mass of onlookers accept his practice and reject his preaching.”*
If you live in freedom in relationship to ownership, wealth, possessions and money, your life will get attention. You will make buying decisions and lifestyle choices that will confuse and bemuse people. You will leave things alone that are addictions to most people around you. You will give more than people think you should and with a joy that few can understand. You will create kairos moments in a world obsessed with holding on to chronos time. And caring for creation will be as natural as loving and worshipping the Creator.
Your life will be radically different if you are truly set free. I pray that you are living this revolutionary freedom everyday. It is yours as a child of God and heir to the promise of salvation. It is yours as an image bearer of our creator God and a caretaker of his good creation. It is yours to bear witness to the truth of God’s sovereignty over and love for all creation.
Claim that freedom for yourself in the victorious name of Jesus. And live it out in the power of the Holy Spirit to the Glory of the Father.
If Christ is setting you free in relationship to the things of this world, you should be able to look back at your attitudes and habits before this emancipation, and look ahead at a very different landscape for your life. Is there a stark difference between the two? If not, pray each day for that freedom to overwhelm your spirit and set you free. If there is a demonstrable difference, write down three areas where your new-found freedom is being lived out in your life. Then ask yourself if others might see this difference? If so, how can you be ready to give an account for the change that has taken place within you, that has produced this fruit? Seek the Spirit’s guidance, and be prepared. For if the evidence is clear to see, people will ask. Will you be ready?
Gracious God, Creator and Lord, this has been a real battle in my life. I do sense the freedom that comes from surrendering everything back to you and exclaiming with my whole heart, “it’s all God’s.” It seems like everyday my old nature wants to pull me back into my ownership ways. Lord, I pray for a continual transformation of my spirit into a faithful, one-kingdom steward. And I pray that as that transformation works itself out it would be evidenced in every area of my life. In some ways that means only small and subtle changes, and other ways the changes are so big they scare me. But you are my strength and my salvation, and in you I will trust. I pray that when others look at me, that my deeds are dollars and my words are pennies. Let my life bear witness to my true Lord, and give me a word to say for all those who ask me to give an account for the hope that is within me. In your precious name I pray. Amen.
*Charles Haddon Spurgeon as recounted by David Jeremiah Turning Points: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006), p. 184