Q: I volunteer at our local animal shelter, and it really upsets me to see the way some people neglect their animals or even treat them cruelly. Does the Bible say anything about how we ought to treat animals, or is it only interested in people? — C. McC.
A: No, God isn’t only interested in people; he created the whole universe, and he is concerned about everything in it, including the animals. The Bible says that after God created all the living animals, “God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:21, 25).
The Bible commands us to avoid cruelty and to do all we can to provide for the welfare of animals. They not only are part of God’s creation, but they also are among his good gifts to us. When we neglect them or treat them cruelly, we are abusing his gifts and ignoring his goodness to us. The prophet Ezekiel condemned those who neglected their flocks: “You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally” (Ezekiel 34:4).
I’m thankful you are concerned about the animals God has made, and I want to encourage you and your colleagues in your work. At the same time, however, never forget that God’s greatest concern is for the whole human race. He made us in his image and gave us a soul or spirit so we can know him personally. And yet we have wandered from him — far more than a lost animal wanders from its owner.
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But God loves us, and by his death and resurrection Jesus Christ has provided the way for us to return to God. Make Christ the center of your life, for he alone is our true shepherd.
Write to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or go to BillyGraham.org.