Sustainable, eco-friendly products are in high demand on our ever-withering planet. We are using up resources faster than we renew them, leaving a weakened landscape for our children and grandchildren. In Latin, to "sustain" literally means "to hold up."* The question is, if we aren't holding up this planet, who is?
Christians know from Colossians 1:17 that ultimately, Jesus is the one who "holds all things together." What you might not know is that the Bible also makes an extraordinary claim concerning sustainability. Jesus states in the Gospel of Matthew: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away." (Matthew 24:35, RSV).
To a world that is decaying rapidly, Jesus shocks His audience by claiming that the Word of God is eternal, renewable, and sustainable. What does this mean?
God's words are our most sustainable resource; their riches cannot be depleted. The resources available to us in the Bible never run out. There is an endless supply of whatever we need: healing, provision, forgiveness, strength, love and power. And before you dismiss His words on this topic as referring only to spiritual things, take a look at these practical examples:
Normally, in order to be considered sustainable, a resource must be renewable, such as with the regrowth of a tree or the recycling of a product. In the Scriptures, however, we see examples of even non-renewable resources being multiplied. How does this work? It happens when Jesus, the Sustainer of all things, releases wisdom to those with renewed hearts and minds.
Joseph as Prototype
The story of Joseph is meant to be a picture of the wise governance of God, who strategically lays up provision for His people in time of need. Through the wisdom of God, Joseph foresaw in a dream the famine that would come upon the earth. In partnership with the Word of God, he made provision for leaner times. His faithful governance preserved resources and protected people's lives.
Similarly, the Bible says: "How great is Your goodness, stored up for those who fear You!" (Psalm 31:19). We are meant to see in Joseph's story the goodness of a God who cares more for us than for many sparrows (Matthew 10:31).
Because the things of God are eternal, they never run out. There is enough supply, enough forgiveness, enough healing and riches for everyone. This is how the apostle Paul was able to write to the Philippians, "And My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
Paul knew the eternal nature of these riches. He knew he could make a radical promise like that and put it in writing even for the generations to come, because God's bank account cannot be overdrawn! His creativity is limitless! He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He cares for you.
So how do we tap into supernatural sustainability? The answer is in the same verse: "...by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
Christ holds the keys to the safe where your riches, healing, wisdom, ideas, and strength are stored. More than that, Christ Himself IS the key to all these things. As He showed Jacob how to prosper in a bad economy, so His loving care for you unlocks His provision (See Matthew 6:25-34). You have only to ask for wisdom.
Look again at the story of Joseph. Joseph's brothers came to him in Egypt, impoverished and hungry. The crops had failed; there was no food on "all the face of the earth." Joseph, the governor, was the only one who could open the storehouses and sell grain. (See Genesis 41:56-57).
Because they humbled themselves and asked for grain, Joseph sustained them. In fact, in a striking parallel to Psalm 31:19, the Bible says: "And (Joseph) sent his father these things: 10 donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, 10 female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and food for his father for the journey." (Genesis 45:23).
In addition, Joseph gave his family several changes of clothing and later, land. To Benjamin he gave 300 pieces (shekels) of silver - quite a large sum! Clearly, we have a prophetic picture of the goodness and abundance of God towards those who fear Him! When the world's resources run out, God will sustain us.
We know from Colossians that Jesus holds all things together (Col. 1:17). He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. We also know from scripture that not only is the Word sustainable in itself, but it also has the power to renew our minds (Romans 12:1). For the Christian, the key is to tap into the Author of sustainability in order to learn how to transform and sustain the world we live in.
When Jeremiah prophesies that God has good plans for us, and plans to prosper, not harm us, he is reminding us again of a sustainable, substantial kingdom whose resources cannot be depleted. We access all this by faith in our brother, governor and King: Jesus. And we trust that because we are family, He will take care of us.
Oh, how great is Your goodness,
*From "sub," meaning "under," and "tenere," meaning "to hold."
c. Deborah Perkins, 2015. All references NKJV unless noted.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.