Cultural Responsibility of Man
The cultural responsibilities of man have been dictated by God.
In Genesis 1, God blessed mankind and gave commandments concerning His creation.
“Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Mankind was given the garden “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2).
Man was given the responsibility of dressing and keeping the garden in which he was placed. The same word dress is also found in Deuteronomy 28:39.
“Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them.”
- Dress has to do with tilling or preparing the earth to be fruitful. Mankind was given the responsibility to care for the earth in which he was placed.
After man sinned, his responsibility to till the earth was suddenly met with the corruption of sin that confronted him daily.
“Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat bread, till thou return unto the ground” (Genesis 3:18).
“Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken” (Genesis 3:23).
Man’s responsibility of tilling the earth remained. He still faced the responsibility of making the earth fruitful even though he would be confronted with the thorns and thistles that the earth brought forth.
- Dress also has to do with service. The ground that the man was to dress belongs to God. As a steward of God’s property, mankind is to “[b]e fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion.”
Man was given a “helpmeet” to help him fulfill his responsibility.
In order for man (Adam) to be fruitful and multiply, God gave him a helpmeet, a woman.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
Thus marriage and the fruitfulness thereof was instituted by God. Soon after this first marriage, however, man rebelled against God’s authority and thus began the conflict that continues unto this day.
Man within himself continues to struggle against the forces of darkness that wish to lead him in rebellion against God’s authority and in rebellion against the responsibility that God has placed upon mankind.
Man in his natural state wishes to be his own authority. He does not wish to submit to the governing ruler of this universe.
God set the rules for man’s stewardship.
However, as Creator, God has the power and authority to dictate the rules concerning the universe and all that dwell therein.
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17).
God set in motion the rules of nature and mankind’s stewardship of the same at the moment of creation.
“[W]hatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
As man continued in his rebellion against God, the sowing brought forth fruit that led to destruction by a great flood. Only Noah and his family remained to once again “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.”
As the great conflict continued, God Himself came in flesh to this earth to break the stronghold of sin that held men captive.
“And, having made peace through the blood of [Jesus’] cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.
In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Colossians 1:20-22).
Man’s obedience brings prosperity.
As man submits to God’s authority, accepts His redemptive plan for his life, and follows in obedience to God’s commands, mankind will prosper in his stewardship of that which God has given him.
“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season” (Psalm 1:3).
Mankind’s obedience dictates the culture.
Man’s submission to God or lack thereof is the basis for the culture in which he lives.
The culture in which man disobeys God’s authority is filled with “fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).
This culture is in stark contrast to the one in which man obeys God’s directives. The culture that submits to God’s authority lacks anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, cursing, swearing, and racism. (See Colossians 3:8, 11.)
It is filled with mercy, kindness, humility, self-control, longsuffering, forgiveness, and love toward others. (See Colossians 3:12-14.)
In other words, the culture that dresses and serves the Lord is a culture that is filled with righteousness and peace and is exalted by God.
However, the culture that rebels and turns from following God is one that is filled with chaos and reproach.
As mankind submits or rejects God’s authority, he is in effect setting the standards for the culture.
- Will those standards be built upon the unchanging “rock” of God’s Word, or will they be set on the “shifting sands” of man’s opinions?
- What will be the basis upon which law and order is established?
- How will man determine what is truth and justice?
- What provision will be made for the “orphan and the widows” of society?
Man’s obedience will be judged.
The outcome of these two differing cultures is fully explained in Deuteronomy 28. It is a must-read for those who wish to understand why societies rise and fall.
However a man decides to follow or reject the responsibility that God has placed upon him, he will be called into question at the Day of Judgment.
- How has man stewarded the gifts that God has given him?
- Has he sown those gifts in God’s fields and brought forth a harvest for the Lord?
- Or has he hidden those gifts in the earth and remained idle with no harvest?
“And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you, And they went their way.
And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?” (Matthew 20:3-4,6)
Man’s obedience will better society or bring its downfall.
Culture is developed by what mankind sows into it. That culture affects all mankind for his betterment or for his curse.
Every man must accept his own responsibility in the course of that culture. After all, that culture is what he and others around him have sown into it.
Can you define stewardship?
How would you describe the characteristics of your culture?
What kind of dresser have you been for the Lord?
Are you planting the right seed for your society to prosper?
What bad seeds do you see sprouting around you?
What are you doing to choke out those bad seeds and change the harvest to a good one?