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A Different Perspective

Before I begin this post, I want to let you know, this post may be a little wordy. While I do my best to be pithy, there are a few occasions where it takes a few extra paragraphs to get the point across. This is one of those times. Please, bear with me. I assure you; it is worth the read.

In the interest of time, I will skip the witty banter and jump right in. Most of us, at one time or another have run across the following verses while studying scripture:

  • A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. ~Proverbs 12:10 KJV (The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel. NIV)

  • Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? ~Matthew 6:26 KJV (Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? NIV)

  • He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry. ~Psalm 147:9 KJV (He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. NIV)

  • Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? ~Luke 12:6 KJV (Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. NIV)

Not following me here? Maybe you are more apt to know this verse:

  • And God blessed them, and God said unto them, 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. ~Genesis 1:28 KJV (God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. NIV)

God created everything. He has ultimate authority over everything. He clearly exercises His authority with loving, fair and just care. He delegated a portion of His authority to man. In so doing, man was charged with and expected not be careless or wasteful in the charge set upon him. Remember, in the beginning, everything was "good." In fact, everything was perfect, was it not? What happened?

The scripture above clearly shows God's perspective on matters has not changed since the beginning. God does not forget His creations - to include animals. A Godly man, remembers this, and as such will care for his animals as well as the well-being of God's creations. While we can go tit-for-tat, the truth of the matter is God does specify, in more than one place, the importance of and the treatment of our animals. [For the record, I need to be clear, God does not place value on them higher than He does man. That, too, is specified. For more on this matter, I encourage you to study and fully understand the difference.] What has changed is man.

There is a litany of reasons. We can spend days exploring them. While I do not have the time of going into all of them here, I would like to focus in on one... a shift in perspective. With this shift in perspective comes the loss of responsibility, accountability and ultimately, carelessness that, in the end, will seep into the fabric of humanity.

Most of us are familiar with the Passover story as relayed in Exodus 12. If not, please take a moment to grab your Bible and read it. God gave Moses and Aaron specific instructions as the tenth plague was approaching. We know from this passage the importance of Passover and the correlation between the events then and Jesus Christ. For just a moment, I want you to think of it from a different perspective. You have been given a specific set of instructions and you know your life (life of the oldest) depends on them. You have to take the most perfect 1 year old male sheep (or goat) and to be honest, that isn't very old, so they are still a lamb, yes? They need to be taken into your home... with your family. In some cases, you may have the neighbor's family, too. There will probably be tight living arrangements. You have to care for this lamb. This is on the 10th of the month. 3 days later, you have to slaughter this lamb. That is 3 whole days. You have eaten, slept, lived with this animal. If you have children, you know as well as I do, that animal was named. It was played with. I am an adult and I would have done some of that. Imagine the emotions on the day it was slaughtered? While it was being cooked. While it was being eaten. While its blood was being smeared on the door? Yes, back then, they knew they had to do such things but they had to take a "perfect" animal which was very valuable, into their home and care for it then kill it - not just sacrifice it - eat it, smear its blood for protection and burn the rest. This was hard even for the most legalistic. If you take a moment to think about it, this perspective deepens the meaning, gravity and just how personal this passage is. Imagine if you had to do this today. Put yourself in their shoes.

Are you familiar with how Nathan rebuked David in 2 Samuel? If not, open your Bible to 2 Samuel 12:1-12. Nathan told David a story of a rich man and a poor man. The poor man did not have flocks but he had one sheep who he loved, "like a baby daughter." We are told this sheep grew up with his children, ate from his plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms. The rich man, who had flocks of sheep, took the poor man's sheep - the one he loved like a daughter, and slaughtered it to feed his guests. This infuriated David so much so, David thought the rich man should die. The point Nathan was trying to get across to David was in real life, he (David) was the rich man. Here is the different perspective for a moment, David could relate to this analogy. He could understand feeling so attached and loving an animal so much. Mistreatment to such a degree deserved death in his mind without hesitation. It was almost unfathomable to David. He could truly empathize and sympathize with the poor man over his loss... the loss of his pet sheep. Again, this passage, from a different perspective is very powerful. It illustrates several points. One point is pets were in fact, at some point and to some degree, a familiar thing to some. People of all "status" in life could relate to what it felt like to be the "poor man" and have a pet and imagine what it would feel like to have it taken away like that. It was acceptable, even by the king, to think such an act was punishable by death because of the intense emotional response solicited.

We have established that all animals were created by God. God trusted man to care for his creations. Everything was perfect in the Garden. Once man left the garden, he slowly seemed to forget one of his original purposes was to take care of God's creations. God has, as He has always done, shown mercy to man in this regard and, for a lack of a better way to put it, "picked up the slack." God did not abandon what He created just because man got, "slack." Unlike man, God keeps His Word - always.

Earlier I wrote, "...this shift in perspective comes the loss of responsibility, accountability and ultimately, carelessness that, in the end, will seep into the fabric of humanity." As easily as we shifted away from one of our primary purposes, we find it easier to shift away from our primary purpose which is to love the Lord with all our heart and soul and love others as ourselves. When we can easily dismiss God's creations and His commands regarding them, we find ourselves less responsible for our actions. When we are less responsible, we become apathic [for the record, apathy is the opposite of love] towards more and more things which become practices and practices become beliefs. When our beliefs are riddled with no responsibility and apathy we are left with the illusion we need no accountability and are thus entitled to that which forms from the beliefs we created. This carelessness undermines the very fabric upon which God made us. Again, God didn't change. We did.

As I wrap this up, I encourage you to ask yourself where do you fall on that spectrum? Do you find yourself being less and less responsible to God and more apathic in your relationship with Him? Please don't let another moment go by before you decide to restore your accountability and eliminate the carelessness that has crept in. There is no better time to step back and look at it from a different perspective than right now.

(Dedicated to the memory of Revo.)

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