Today we finish our discussion on "Dominion." This word is misunderstood and by Christians and non-Christians alike and the concept is certainly underused in the church but is one of the original ideas God used when He was designing our species. Simply put, Dominion means “To rule.” We were made to rule, we do rule and God desires that we should rule well.
“Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26 (ESV)
"And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28 (ESV)
So what does it mean for us to have this dominion and how do we exercise it? Through our dominion, God gives us purpose, responsibility and
Many people, including believers, often feel that their life lacks significant meaning or direction.
Young people often languish after high school trying to figure out which direction in life to pick. Older people change career paths or make drastic decisions in their personal life — have a mid-life crisis or two. Folks closer to the end of life sometimes live in regret feeling they should have accomplished more. How do we know the right way to go? Are there instructions on life? Who is there to guide us especially after our parents pass on?
While God doesn’t always lay out for us exactly what we’re supposed to do in each of life’s situations (remember “we walk by faith” 2 Corinthians 5:7); we have ample resources available to us to discover God’s will for our lives. The most important thing to know is that God expects us to do something to leave the world better than we found it. Even if that’s just for the people in our immediate family. To the degree that God has given us dominion (in our personal, professional and private lives) let us exercise it.
This gives us a purpose in life. Actually multiple purposes in life because almost nothing God does is of just one singular import. This is important, God does not give us a sense of purpose — but real purpose. Some tend to overstate this because of their pride. Let them “not to think of [themselves] more highly than [they] ought (Romans 12:3 [insertions mine]). Their misjudgment might not be in misidentifying their God-given role in life (say a CEO or a notable athlete) but in finding their value in their purpose. Our value is inherent in each human being because we are made “in the Image of God.” You are not our job title. You don’t lose value when you can no longer do what you do for a living. People who are not able to care for themselves at all still have inherent value. Value and purpose are two distinct gifts from God. We’re the ones who confuse the two.
Other folks tend to feel they have little to no purpose at all. I fit more easily into this category personally. Both the high and low self-esteem views are errant because their self-focused. Our purpose comes from God Himself and Him alone. Only He can give us our purpose. So you start humbly in prayer. God will answer.
But how does God answer? Will it be like in Matthew 4 when Jesus went down to the river and the Heaven’s opened, the Spirit descended and God's voice rung through the sky? Probably not. Let us also not forget that He went down to the river at 30 years of age had already said when He was just 12 “I must be about my Father's business?” Jesus had a deep sense of His purpose early in life. When you get a sense of what God wants you to do in any aspect of your life that’s your calling. This aspect of our dominion is where our feet have to match our faith.
Following are some thoughts on how to know God’s will, hear God’s calling and be sure of what He expects of you.
#1 Bloom where you’re planted.
“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” Acts 17:26 (ESV)
You are a human being that lives in a particular time and a particular place. While the place may change if God gives you that ability there is also nothing wrong with staying where you are at and listening for God’s calling there. Who are the people around you? Serve them and make their lives better? What positions are available to you — in your home, in the market place, at church? Do them with all your energy. Exert every positive influence. Don’t look do to or for something else when God has already given you enough to do. Rest in that. If He wants you to do something else He is more than capable of getting your attention. Be “faithful in the little things” and God can trust you with the “bigger things.” Don’t “despise the day of small things” Zechariah 4:10 (NIV)
#2 Use what’s in your hand.
“Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you” 1Thessalonians 4:11 (ESV)
Life is very clear that each person has unique talents and abilities. You’re included in that. The trouble comes when we want the skills and abilities that God has given to other people. For Christians, God has also given us spiritual gifts. Most of these are spelled out in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. The point of these gifts is not to lavish them on our selves or for our self-advancement but to glorify God and build other people up. My point is this: two of your biggest clues to God’s calling on your life are details you can observe about yourself and the people around you. What has God made you good at? Who around you needs that service?
Remember that Moses had a shepherd’s staff in his hand when God called him to shepherd His people Israel. Boaz was a wealthy employer when God brought him a new employee who would become his wife. Lydia sold purple in the market when God called her to host missionaries and start a church in her home. Paul made tents for men to dwell in when God called him to write books that dwell in men’s hearts.
#3 The Lord is the Master of your work
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”
(Col 3:23-25 ESV)
This brings us to the last aspect of our dominion I want to talk to you about responsibility.
The Lord Jesus Christ is your boss. You may have many people that you “report to” in life. As Christians, we are to give them the respect and honor that is due to their position no matter what. Go ahead, read the New Testament and tell me I’m wrong. This does not change the fact that you can “only serve one master” (my paraphrase of Luke 16:13). That begs the question: who is your master? Your boss? Your spouse? Some celebrity? The Bible is clear that our motivation in pleasing any of the people who reasonably have expectations on our lives has to be, ultimately, about pleasing Jesus. That’s because we as human beings fail each other often. So the only motivation we can find to grow in doing good is the One who truly is good.
This is where I find the parable of Jesus so simple and refreshing. Specifically, I’m talking about the Work Parable toward the latter part of Matthew’s gospel: the Parable of the Unjust Servant, the Parable of the Talents, and others. While there are certainly many spiritual implications that can be drawn from each of these there are also very simple and profound truths that we need to be reminded of daily. Hard work, faithfulness, and fair play will be rewarded the opposite will be brought into judgment.
This is the part where everyone throws the breaks on. Nobody likes to talk about judgment. Let’s not even think about it, right? Well, we better think about it. Like it or not, we have Dominion. God gave it to us in Genesis 1:26 before He spoke it to us [commanded it] in verse 28. You have dominion. You rule. The question is what kind of ruler will you be.
Like a Father with his son, God gives us responsibility and He holds us responsible for what He’s put into our hands to do. So what are you doing with your life? No matter where you are and what you’ve been doing to this point God’s grace will surely avail for us if we avail ourselves of it. In other words, set your heart on God’s right path and He’ll make sure you get there. Let’s start serving Him together!
Next week, we’ll take a look at the second word in our work from Genesis 1:28: Subdue. See ya then!