Stewardship and Relationship
Relationship is undeniably part of the image of our triune God. We are made in His image, and relationship is a gift to humanity in which, and by which, we may perpetuate that image of God in us, to His glory.
We are made in His image, and relationship is a gift to humanity in which, and by which, we may perpetuate that image of God in us, to His glory.
God created the perfect natural environment for humankind, which he proclaimed after every day to be “good” (Gen. 1:3, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). It is quite unexpected, therefore, that we find a moment—the only one in the entire Genesis account of Creation, where God proclaims something “not good.” Why would anything in an otherwise perfect world be found “not good”?
We must rewind and remember what had just happened in the universe: There had been war in heaven (Rev. 12:7). In a perfect and holy environment, Lucifer had taken to focusing on self, and felt the need to exalt himself over God (Isa. 14:12-15). In this precarious context, God created human beings on planet earth. He sought to give us every advantage. His immediate concern: “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18).
In the original Hebrew, the verb hĕ-yō-wṯ appears in a form* which might be best translated as “to be” or “to exist”—with “the man” as the object in this verse. A more direct translation of Genesis 2:18 might therefore be: "It is not good, this existence of man alone/to himself…" (Learn Biblical Hebrew, p. 145).
Could it be that God gave Adam the best spiritual aid and defense against exalting self, by giving him “another” to focus on? By creating Eve, and the human family, God gave us a way to put self aside. He gave us the opportunity to “submit self” and demonstrate the very image of God in us by developing godly selflessness through unselfishness. That’s what Jesus came to do: “Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6-8).
Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”
We are all exhorted to do the same. We are to be good stewards of God’s image and character, for the sake of our witness and mission: “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete....Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:” (Phil. 2:1-5).
An attitude like this will surely change everything. If the characteristic of submission—of self for the sake of God and others—is an important way to demonstrate God’s image in me, then imagine how it will affect my marriage, my understanding of leadership, my idea of ‘my rights’, our organizational structures and ultimately, our worship and our witness! Sadly, we often fail—individually, corporately—and we live as if God never created Eve for Adam nor Adam for Eve.
Ellen White says: “Peace and joy, in perfect submission to the will of Heaven, existed throughout the angelic host. Love to God was supreme, love for one another impartial. Such was the condition that existed for ceaseless ages before the entrance of sin” (Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 4, pp. 316, 317).
If perfect submission to the “will of Heaven” was the way in which peace and joy existed in the sinless universe for eternity past, will the same not be required for a sinless eternity to come?
Good stewards of God’s image who await Jesus' return will submit self—to God and in favour of one another—in good practice for an eternity that begins in us as soon as we accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, but not only that. When we learn the art of the submission of self, and represent God’s image clearly to the world, we take stewardship from the realm of mere responsibility into the realm of bringing glory to God!