Receivers of Grace Are to Be the Most Gracious

Good Morning,

This is somewhat a melancholy edition of the prayer and worship help. My wife and I are going to have to make a decision sometime in the near future about one of our dogs. She’s twelve, lived a full and happy life, and is starting to have difficulties natural to age. We feel a responsibility to care well for her, since she has done so much to bless us. One of the aspects of Biblical Christianity that doesn’t get enough street cred is that of all the people of the world those who descend from faithful Adam should most of all men desire that the least of these receive the paternal mercies of those who have much. God in His grace has called humanity to have dominion and be stewards over the natural earth and her creatures. We acquire our marching orders on how to go about this from the one who has ordered all things in accordance with His glory. It is part and parcel of being one made in God’s image that we should in all ways reflect who He is, and what He does. Those who have been the greatest receivers of mercy should do nothing else than pass on that mercy to others, not just humans, but animals as well.

As I note in the opening word that especially comes as they experience their last days. Suffering is an inevitable and unenviable result of Adam’s sin, for animals as much as humans. When Isaiah, and John in Revelation, and Paul in Romans waxes poetically about the future blessings which shall come with the return of Christ it is not just you and I who will see love in that moment, but Jesus has and is redeeming all of creation from the weight and penalty of sin. We have a tendency to, unintentionally or not, selfishly focus only on what our Lord has done for us, and not without good reason. The things created on the six days of God’s labor are in service of the chief of His work, mankind. If we are in a situation where we have to make a choice between human life and animal life the decision should not be a difficult one for us. If bambi is in the middle of the road and a young child is on the side of the road, well there goes my front bumper as I attempt to brake forward. Our Creator has provided animals even for our physical benefit, whether that be for clothing, sacrifice, or food. Yet even in those three examples care is to be taken with how we honor the one giving life for our comfort. Slaughtering and wasting in wanton gluttony is sin. We should be using as much of the animal as possible, within reason of course, but with dignity. As we noted in other conversations about conservatism we should be in serious consideration as whether or not factory farming, agribusiness, and computer-generated genetic modification is in keeping with Scriptural principles regarding the fifth and sixth commandments. I think if we look into it the answer may surprise us.

We get into all this today, not just because I am going to miss my little buddy. Though, I must admit when I sit down and write these Tuesday devotions they usually arise out of something either bothering me or already on my mind. I should probably plan these out a little bit more, however, that may miss the spontaneity of talking about stuff like our relationships to other creatures. We don’t do that enough primarily due to the fact that it’s kind of taken for granted. Many of the folks at Bethany are much closer to the food chain than some of us. Whether it be through the raising and selling of beef and pork, or backyard poultry. Most of us are hunters. Something that rankles me something fierce every deer season is how guys will kill bucks just for the bone sticks sticking out of their skull. It enrages me to come upon a headless carcass in the woods. Not only is that meat going to waste that could have fed someone, but it’s a transgression of God’s holy and perfect law. In our Larger Catechism in the question and answer human beings are required (as the moral law of God applies to everyone, not just Christians) to not only abstain from the immoderate use of meat and drink, but to also ensure that it is partaken of soberly (that is carefully) and that the weak and innocent are protected. It seems to me to just kill an animal for sport, or through being a jagoff, violates not just the spirit of the statute, but the letter of it as well. We would then make the same application to the raising of animals for meat. Care should be taken to give place for life even in the midst of death. Such is the fallen nature of the world.

There are probably a lot of other issues raised in thinking through this that should occupy our time. It is in the interest of using our remaining space well that we will not go too much into other matters. If there is a particular aspect of this that you may have questions about please feel free to let me know at your own leisure. There are things that go on in the Christian life that we should more deeply consider, and it is best often if we do a lot of that thinking ourselves in order to strengthen that muscle. Yet we should always do that in the community of faith so as to build one another up in love and grace. There are a multitude of counselors available in the Church, living and dead, and we are always better off seeking their wisdom while we wrestle with matters that are in themselves, or at least should be, important to us as those made new in the image of God by the blessed work of our Christ.

In closing, as you think about your pets, the cows, and where the buffalo roam (if you drive up 74 you know what I mean) and our responsibility to them, both in life and death, it is through considering the least of these that we are drawn to think more on the love that Jehovah has shed through the gift of His Son that we might be partakers of the divine mercy, and receive all the benefits of that new life in Jesus, which include a heart and mind that is drawn towards thanksgiving. Central to the way we show praise to God for His grace to sinners in the sacrifice of His son is how we have a changed relationship with the world around us. As stewards of creation we are blessed. See with fresh eyes this blessing.

Something to think about:

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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