Devotional & Reflection

Week 3, Oct 2001

Genesis 1:26-31 - In His Image / Rulership
By Pang Hee Hung, Director & Trainer, Ezra Resources

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the sixth day.

Over the last two weeks, we looked at how we are to reflect the image of God in our "Relationships" and "Righteousness". This week we will reflect on imaging His Rulership. What does the "rule" in Gen 1:26 and 28 mean? We are inclined to think of rulership as domination and exercising great power over others. Many world rulers exhibit such rulership in the past. They give us a secular understanding of rulership as opposed to the biblical view of rulership. The exercise of rulership and dominion in this passage is to be "compassionate and not exploitative. Even in the garden of Eden he (man) who would be lord of all must be servant of all." In addition, "such dominion does not allow him to kill these creatures or to use their flesh as food. Only much later ([Gen] 9:3, post-Flood) is domination extended to include consumption" (see Victor Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, NICOT, p. 138-9). Thus to rule like God means that the rule is not indiscriminate, coercive, manipulative or exploitative - but a rule exercised with care and responsibility.

In this fallen world, we can so easily fall into the temptation of abusing our powerful rulership position. This dims people's view of us as an image of God's rulership. As Christian bosses, we must be watchful not to fall into the trap of abusing our power and authority. I realized that when I was a General Manager, I sometimes went into the mode of dishing out orders, which is not what godly rulership is all about. I rarely, but did scream at my children and discipline them in my anger when they misbehave. If we are to image God - who is powerful but does not abuse His position because He acts out of love - then we need to be careful how we exercise our rulership. As pastors and leaders of churches, we need to be all the more careful in the exercise of our rulership. This is because the church is generally more submissive in view of biblical exhortations and it is easier for church leaders to abuse this privileged position of spiritual authority. Take note that "spiritual authority is never exercised for one's own benefit, but for those under it" (Robert Clinton, The Making Of A Leader, p. 102). In addition, we need to care and love all of creation and be good stewards of the environment and creation.

How do we rule and run our companies / departments; schools; our churches and cell groups; and our homes?
Do your subordinates, students, church members, wife and children feel more loved by your rule or would they rather leave you if they had a choice?
Do we rule and ruin the environment or rule and build the environment?