A Brief Meditation for the Month

September 2021

“I would give nothing for that man’s religion whose very dog and cat are not the better for it:” so said Rowland Hill, the renowned English preacher of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (1744–1833). Hill, whose ministry was centred in Surrey Chapel in London, firmly believed that the saving grace of God impacts every compartment of the Christian’s life. The apostle Paul supplies confirmation that this is indeed so. He described the saving change wrought in a soul by the Holy Spirit as “a new creation,” 2Corinthians 5:17. A new life, accompanied by a new lifestyle, comes into existence. Spiritual life pulsates through the whole man. His darkened understanding is enlightened; his conscience is awakened; his affections are re-focused; his will is renewed; his emotions are aroused. Because of the radical change of attitude towards God, and the new relationship with him, change occurs towards every other contact. In practical terms, every born-again Christian sees the world, and everything in it, as belonging to God. They claim nothing by entitlement, recognizing the legitimacy of God’s claim: “the world is mine, and the fulness thereof,” Psalm 50:12. The believer’s response to that claim is naturally, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: the world, and all they that dwell therein,” Psalm 24:1. From the greatest of men to the meanest of insects, from clouds to clods, all are the property of the Almighty. Our Saviour taught that not even a little sparrow, considered of little value, can fall to the ground without the interest and involvement of God, its creator and sustainer, Matthew 10:29.

Once these facts are impressed upon the enlightened understanding, attitudes automatically change. As Rowland Hill implied, respect for everything that belongs to God manifests itself in attitudes and actions. Even the brute creation benefits from Christian attitudes towards it. Wherever the gospel has had a saving impact upon heathen peoples in history, it has changed their behaviour towards each other and their environment. Sadly, the greed of men, accompanied by the spirit of materialism and secularism, can quickly undo the influence of the gospel. Biblical knowledge and understanding of God’s world and the impact of man’s sin upon it, however, ought to bring us to our senses. Paul wrote to the Romans, “we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now,” Romans 8:22. God’s created world, of which he said, it was very good, Genesis 1:31, experienced the sad effects of the curse upon it because of man’s sin and disobedience. God created man to exercise dominion over his creation—to be in a right relationship to it, care for it, and cultivate it in a just and righteous manner—while understanding his accountability to God for it. Because sinful man’s relationship to God is not what it should be, it follows that his relationship to God’s creation must also suffer. It is truly absurd to witness such a fallacious concern for trees and animals on the part of those protesting over ‘animal rights’ and the ‘survival of the planet,’ who express little or no concern but rather condone the slaughter of unborn millions in their mother’s wombs. Until we rediscover the image of God in the unborn child and relearn our duty towards God’s creation, we are going to continue to provoke the anger of the Almighty. Our only hope as a generation is in a radical transformation wrought by the power of the Holy Spirit in men’s hearts. Looking around at our contemporary society and the low spiritual condition of the professing church, we can only lament and earnestly plead with God that in his wrath, he will remember mercy, Habakkuk 3:2.

G. G. Hutton.