Living Sustainably

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : Deuteronomy 22:1-7

If you come on a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs, with the mother sitting on the fledglings or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. Let the mother go, taking only the young for yourself, in order that it may go well with you and you may live long. (vv. 6-7)

This verse in Deuteronomy, tucked into an obscure part of the case law of the Torah, illustrates a principle for living wisely and well. If hungry you may take the young or the eggs from a bird’s nest, but leave the mother. In other words, you may take the fruit, but leave the fruitfulness. In terms of a moral maxim: Live in such a way that you allow other creatures to remain fruitful. Live sustainably, exercising respectful concern for God’s creatures by taking only what you really need.

Currently in the world we are not living sustainably. Our present way of life in North America and other places on the globe is like taking the mother along with the fledglings and the eggs. This cannot last. It will not last.

What would it look like to take this text seriously? How could we live more sustainably? Shouldn’t we try, knowing that this is in keeping with our Maker’s plan for living well?


Prayer: Living God, Sustainer of all things, teach us to live wisely and well.