Written by Pastor Lincoln A. Graham, Jr.
The Oxford Dictionary defines “care” as the “The provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.” Gen. 2:15 tells us that God “placed Adam into the garden to dress it and to keep it.” Said another way, God placed Adam into the garden to serve and protect it. Interestingly, the garden was a garden before Adam was placed in it because gardens are defined by their planning, layout, and boundaries. In this case, the esthetics of the garden was predetermined and Adam had no choice but to care for whatever was put in his hands. IT WAS HIS CALLING.
Adam’s calling led him to stewardship. He did not own the garden, but the call of stewardship compelled him to show a heightened duty of care; the same level of care as if it belonged to him. Within this heightened duty of care he was responsible to supply and deliver what was needed for the welfare, maintenance, protection and wellbeing of the garden.
Typically Stewards are not left to their own devices to figure out “provision” and what is “necessary”; usually both things are supplied and instructions are explicitly given on both fronts. He was responsible to show a high level of commitment to serve and protect this thing that was in his control – it consumed him, and defined who he was.
Therein lies the crux of the issue: those who care do so regardless and sometimes in spite of what was put in their hands. They care because it is more than a job; it is a divine calling, and once you are placed in it, the only choice is to serve and to keep.
When God placed man in the Garden of Eden, He gave him a mandate to care for the garden and everything in it. The act of caring entailed that Adam would have to be a servant, or better yet – a slave to the garden – and his job was to meticulously watch over, guard and protect the garden. He was the guardian, and he was responsible for ensuring that things that were part of the garden remained in the garden, and things that were unauthorized to be there remained out.
Although man sinned and was driven out from that garden, those instructions are still valid for every one of us today. We are responsible for the earth and everything in it. We are to diligently serve and keep the things and people that God has placed in our lives. Caring gives purpose to our lives, focus to our living and creates the foundation upon which we see ourselves, our families and most importantly, how we see God Himself. In other words, how we care for those around us is a direct reflection of our obedience to God and the value we place on His instructions.
God did not leave us to figure out the art of caring by ourselves. In fact, we can view all the actions of God, from Genesis through Revelations as a manifestation of his own purpose to serve and keep. Being the omniscient God of the heaven and earth that He is, He showed, by example, how to care for people. The Bible is filled with examples of Jesus healing, feeding and ministering to people’s physical, spiritual and emotional needs. He ministered to the mind, body and soul. Isaiah predicted this characteristic of God when he prophesied that Jesus would bind up the broken hearted; proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; comfort them that mourn and recover sight to the blind (Isaiah 61: 1-2).
1Peter 5:7 tells us that God cares for us. He demonstrated His care and concern for every aspect of our lives by all the miracles He did, either directly or through His prophets. For example, He:
*Kept the widow’s oil and meal replenished (1Kings 17)
*Miraculously healed King Hezekiah and then added 15 more years to his life when he asked in prayer (2Kings 20)
*Healed the deaf and dumb man (Mark 7: 31-35)
*Fed the 5000 (Matthew 14:14-21)
*Cleansed the 10 lepers (Luke 17: 42-14)
*Stilled the tempest (Mark 4:37-39)
There is no greater demonstration of God’s care for us than His nail-scarred Hands. While we were still His enemies He went to a cross to pay the penalty for our sin that we might live freely. We have been taught how to care. It is not enough (or even Christ-like!) to only care for those who we love or for those who will be able to thank us later. As the story of the ten lepers demonstrates, sometimes those we care for will not be grateful. However, Colossians 3:23-24 admonishes us that whatever we do we are to do it heartily as to the Lord and not unto men, knowing that it is of the Lord that we shall receive our reward.
The Bible also encourages us to put on bowels of mercy and compassion and to be tenderhearted. The Lord Jesus has said that one of the greatest commandments is to love the Lord with all our hearts and our neighbor as ourselves. So we have a responsibility and a God-given mandate to care for those around us.
The teachers and nurses that we honor today have taken up the mandate to care. By their vocation, they are caring for people’s minds and bodies. Some, if not all of you have dedicated irreplaceable time, vast effort and valuable resources into the people you care for.
Most of you have not reaped equal or tangible benefits for all that you have put in. But God has seen! Today we want to thank you for your invaluable service. We want to tell you that we appreciate all that you do and we pray for God’s continuous blessings in your lives. We encourage you to continue to invest in people’s lives and wellbeing. May we take the opportunity to ask you to also invest in peoples’ souls.
For those of you who are saved, we ask that you take advantage of each opportunity that God gives you to also provide spiritual ministry to the numerous people that you come into contact with in your daily administration.
And we encourage those of you who are not saved to come to know the One who careth for us, the man Christ Jesus.
God bless you as we unite to make each others’ lives and our community better.