By Ruth Clemence, Crosswalk.com
It is written in the very first line of the Bible: “In the beginning God created…” (Genesis 1:1, emphasis added). Creativity begins with God. He had a plan and design for the cosmos and spoke it into being. We have a written account of how creation came to be, and how the very first people were made by God. God spoke, made, and revealed it all through the written word. He was behind the entire creative order that we see around us.
When we look at the intricacy of a snowflake, the symmetry of a butterfly, or the perfect location of the earth’s position in the rest of the solar system, we see the handiwork of our Creator God. He also planned that we would be made in His image (Genesis 1:26), so it is no surprise that we get to experience the wonder and joy of creativity ourselves. With all of this creative potential, how can we use our creative talents to glorify God?
Give All the Glory to God Alone
Whatever we do, we are to do it to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). That includes our creative endeavors. As the apostle Paul shared, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).
In Colossians 1:16 it says: “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” It is through Jesus that everything has been made and it is all for Him (John 1:3). God made the universe through His Son (Hebrews 1:2) and it is by faith that “we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3). It is right and good to give glory to the One who made it all and for whom it is all for.
It also fulfills the command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Luke 10:27). What we create should not be worshiped, nor should we glorify ourselves or others in our creative pursuits. That does not mean that we do not enjoy or appreciate what we create, but we remember to keep our love and affections in their rightful place.
Participate in God’s Masterpiece
We have the immense privilege of joining with God in His creative purposes for the world. It was God’s wonderful idea to create people and to get the first man to name the livestock, the birds and the wild animals (Genesis 2:20). God “brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name” (Genesis 2:19). This was God’s idea to involve us, not an idea of our own making. God made the first woman as a helper, creating her from the rib of the man, and he named her too (Genesis 2:21-23). They would work together in the world.
God invites us to participate in His grand design on earth, and His kingdom purposes. We are made in His image and formed by Him, and God has a plan and a purpose, establishing our steps (Proverbs 16:9). We can use our creative talents for good or for ill, but as we look to Jesus, our desires will become more and more like His. Using our creativity enables us to express a part of who God has designed us to be (Psalm 139:13-16). That may look different for each person, as we are all individuals with unique gifts and abilities, yet we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” by Him (Psalm 139:14).
Love Others with Our Creativity
It is important to remember the first two commandments as we create: love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. Loving the Lord comes first. We need to spend time with Him regularly; it is vital to build and nurture a relationship with our Heavenly Father. As we do this, it will transform our longings and desires to love and serve others.
God loves the people whom He created, and He designed us to be in community together. As we create to the glory of God and out of love for Him, it will spill over into how we use our talents, time and resources for others. This might look like caring for those in need, volunteering our skills, designing something to the best of our ability with utmost integrity, photographing or painting beautiful landscapes to show God’s work on display, and so much more. There are endless opportunities to be creative. The people in our homes, communities and the wider world can be blessed, uplifted and inspired by our God-given creativity.
Manage Our Creative Talents Well
We are to steward what God has given us and remember that all good gifts come from Him (James 1:17). Even as we are diligent with our time, resources and creative talents, we can continue to learn and develop in our creativity. As we look to Him who is the giver and provider of all we need, we worship Him alone, rather than anything that we create.
Throughout the Bible, there are examples of humans using their gifts and abilities to create things to worship other than God. We see it when the Israelites created a golden calf to worship (Exodus 32) and in the construction of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-4). In both cases, they made a god or a name for themselves, demonstrating the skill, but also the deep-rooted pride of mankind.
Even idolizing people made in the image of God lends itself to the worship of the creation rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). There is risk and temptation to pursue and follow created things and step into idolatry, rather than to worship God. Therefore, we must bring our creativity before the Lord, knowing it is Him that we are serving, and we should use our talents wisely.
Embrace the Skills Given to Us
God gives skills to different people. We are all given certain abilities, even if it might take us a little while to discover or develop what they are. In the building of the Tabernacle, there were many who had different skills given to them by God which would be used to complete it: “All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded” (Exodus 35:10).
It is a beautiful picture of some of God’s people who were “willing and whose heart moved them” and brought materials and offerings to God for this work (Exodus 35:21-22). Men and women all participated together, and there was willingness and skill involved to make what God had commanded come to be. Are we also willing to offer our skills in whatever way is needed for God’s glory and purpose?
God Equips Whose He Calls
God also equips those whom He calls to a specific task. In the building of the Tabernacle, the Lord chose Bezalel of the tribe of Judah, and filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, understanding, knowledge and all kinds of skills, to make artistic designs (Exodus:35:30-34). He also equipped him and Oholiab of the tribe of Dan to be able to teach others. God is the one who fills us with the skills for the tasks that He has called us to.
The creative process means walking through trials and frustrations at times, but can also develop our perseverance and character. God can use our creativity to shape and transform us into the likeness of Jesus as we seek to use our creative talents for His glory. He is interested in our hearts. As we create, we can ask Jesus to help us honor Him in our pursuits. We can use our creativity to build up believers, spread the good news to those who do not know Jesus, support those in need, and use it as a way to provide an income for our families.
As we surrender and yield to God, continually thinking “not my will but yours be done,” He can take our creative offering and transform it for His glory and purposes. God saw the two loaves and five fish, and He was the One who filled the crowd. Give Him your creative talents, no matter how big or small, and let Him deeply satisfy your every need. As pastor and theologian John Piper said: “God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him.”
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Johner Images
Ruth Clemence is a wife, mom, writer and award-winning blogger based in Cardiff, Wales. Read more at: ruthclemence.com.