The Germans were very particular about recycling. They proudly consider themselves environmentally friendly, and most, if not all, Germans love nature, spending much time walking on the thousands of miles of bike and walking paths scattered throughout the country. We got in the same habit in our family of taking walks out among the various paths and even participating in the German national past-time of “Volksmarching.” Volksmarches are walks set up in each town to take advantage of the local “wandering” paths that are mostly paved with each town having perhaps dozens of miles of such paths criss-crossing their town and even linking to other villages. If you like to walk, Germany is the most walk-friendly place we’ve ever lived. These volksmarches are normally annual events put on by each town with the 10 and 20 kilometer (whichever you prefer) lengths of path well-marked and with the overall event promoting the charms or particular farm products or wines, etc. – whatever the town is known for and proud of.
The walks generally last all day with people starting at their own convenience, some walking by themselves and others in groups. There’s no particular hurry. The walk is entirely for the fun of getting outdoors in the beautiful German countryside (and Germany is one of the most beautiful places we’ve lived). The walks will usually start and finish in the town’s civic hall or one of their schools and will usually feature light refreshments such as tea along the path. And at the ending place, there will always be a large hall set up with tables and chairs with some sort of local food and beer being sold. It is a very festive occasion. So, since the Germans enjoy nature and their natural resources so much, and since the country is very crowded (although it doesn’t feel that way with all the forests and parks) with over 80 million people living in an area slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Montana, they not only want to, but practically are forced to be very careful with their natural resources.
Having lived in a country where recycling is taken very seriously and having lived in various U.S. cities and towns where recycling is a big concern, we have simply adopted the recycling lifestyle every place we have lived. Moreover, as Christians, we have great respect for this wonderful earth that God has so lovingly created for us to live in with all of its abundant resources and tremendous natural beauty. In Genesis 1:28, we are told, “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” This is a special charge to man, a commission, such as the commission that I undertook in becoming a military officer. God is giving mankind complete charge over all of this earth, and you can bet that this charge comes with responsibility. The Matthew Henry commentary on the Bible says, “God designed hereby to put an honour upon man, that he might find himself more strongly obliged to bring honour to his Maker.”
I believe that, as good stewards of this earth that God has put us in charge of, we have an obligation to treat the resources of this earth and all resources in our lives in an honorable way. In Colossians 3:23, we are taught, “[W]hatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men…” In all things, we are to glorify God, and this includes being good stewards, not wasteful, not disrespectful, in our use of all the natural resources of this earth. Moreover, in 1 Corinthians 4:2, Paul writes, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” So, no matter how you look at it, we are each charged by God to be good stewards of the various resources that God puts in our hands, big and small. Not everyone can recycle, and not every town even has a recycling program, but as much as is in our power and as God has taught us, we must use all of our resources wisely and respectfully, including our financial resources, time, and even the people that God has put in our charge (children, subordinates, co-workers, fellow church members, fellow Christians, and every human being that we encounter).
I pray that God will give you all wisdom, courage, and strength to be a good steward of the resources, time, money, and people that God puts in your path.