Since the beginning, man has channeled his efforts into making, creating, and building. The world is filled with proof of this compulsion. From beautiful art to exquisite architecture to mechanical wonders that have improved our lives, creativity is a drive within the human spirit that has become a defining characteristic. Even people who may not think they are creative, exercise it in some way when they problem solve.
Creativity is a part of God’s nature that He put into people so that we can glorify Him in unique and diverse ways. Sometimes people use their expression in ways that do not honor the Lord, and are profane, self-serving, or wicked. Despite the influence of sin on humanity, creativity is a part of God’s blessings and one of many ways to engage in worship.
What Does the Bible Say about Creativity?
Creativity is the use of the mind, the body, and inspiration to make something new out of what already exists. In the Bible, there is poetry, descriptions of elaborate art and metal work, and other examples of people using their time and talents to take something, and turn it into something artistic, inventive, and new.
The ultimate form of creativity, of course, was creation. While humanity takes things that already exist, like minerals, woods, and pigments, and makes something new, God took void, and created the universe. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:1-3).
Before God spoke, there was no light, no animals, no plants. After six days of creativity, God created millions of species of plants, animals, birds, bugs, bacteria, fungi, and so many other living things.
God made man in His own image, and gave man some of His attributes, including creativity. While people cannot make matter out of void, they do invent tools, create art, and solve problems using that God-given characteristic. Creativity is a part of God’s plan for humanity to improve their lives, to worship Him, and to express themselves. In the Bible, it is shown at its height when people are creating to God’s glory.
When King Solomon had the opportunity to finally build a permanent temple to the Lord, He did not just erect four walls. He made it beautiful, to mirror God’s creation and testify to His character. The Bible records, “So also he made for the entrance to the nave doorposts of olivewood, in the form of a square, and two doors of cypress wood. The two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding. On them he carved cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, and he overlaid them with gold evenly applied on the carved work. He built the inner court with three courses of cut stone and one course of cedar beams” (1 Kings 6:33-36). Solomon’s artistic decisions also reflected how generously the Lord had blessed Israel.
Bible Verses about Creativity
There are many verses in the Bible that allude to God’s creativity, or the creativity He imbued into people. There is not one verse that outlines the Lord’s philosophy on artistic expression, but many reveal something about how God uses it, and how we can use it to glorify Him.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
““Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded” (Exodus 35:10).
“It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens” (Jeremiah 10:12).
“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (Psalm 104:24).
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Why Is Creativity Important to God?
God is the ultimate source of creativity. In the beginning, there was nothing but Himself. God existed in perfect unity and love with His Triune nature - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a part of Himself that He gave to humanity; it is part of what makes people “made in His image.”
God gives individuals the capacity to be creative in different arenas. Some can create stories, others design buildings, and still others can make lines and colors resemble the real world. The Bible is full of examples of how God gifts individuals differently.
The Psalms were poems set to music, highlighting the different abilities of the poet and the musician. In Exodus, God states that He selected one man to be a metal-worker for the tabernacle, as well as empowered Him to teach others to do the same; “Then Moses said to the people of Israel, ‘See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan” (Exodus 35: 30-34). Creativity in a Christian can be guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Like anything in this fallen world, creativity can be twisted to serve evil purposes. Some people create to be profane, to indulge in evil, or to spread ungodly ideas. These can usually be identified through works that honor a false god, encourage wicked behavior, engage in blasphemy, or that showcase evil and sin is the purpose of the art. However, just because there is a sinful act present in a book, or portrayed in a work of art, does not mean it is glorifying the sin.
How Can I Use My Creativity to Honor God?
Many believers want to use their art in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, does not lead other people into temptation, and serves as a contrast to art inspired by evil or materialism. Some Christian art is made by Christians, for Christians, and promotes a sweet message about the love of the Lord.
However, if a writer, artist, or creator feels they need to address certain kinds of sin, illustrate the realities of living in a fallen world, or explore evil in order to communicate Christian themes or ideas, that does not take away from their creativity. Part of the glory and mystery of salvation is that God came to save wicked people; sometimes honoring God through art will require an exploration or acknowledgment of that fact. There are many great artists who honored God through art without making explicitly “Christian” art, such as literary works or paintings with Christian themes, even if the subject may not be overtly Christian.
When focusing on creativity, like most things in the Christian life, the intention behind it is important. The Apostle Paul encouraged the church in Colossae, “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). As long as a creator is being led by the Spirit, doing their work as working for the Lord, and not indulging or reveling in sin through their work, they will probably create something beautiful, edifying, and enjoyable. Of course, note all creativity is art. Some of it is in design, in approaching math and science in a unique way, and so much more. Strive to obey God in the tasks He gives in a creative manner, and He will be working in it.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Poetry Revised Edition. New York: Basic Books, 2011.
Hunter, Alistair G. and Caroline Vander Stichele. Creation and Creativity from Genesis to Genetics and Back. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2009.
Letellier, Robert Ignatus and Janet Mary Mellor. The Bible and Art Exploring the Covenant of God’s Love in Word and Image. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Elena Mozhvilo
Bethany Verrett is a freelance writer and editor. She maintains a faith and lifestyle blog graceandgrowing.com, where she muses about the Lord, life, culture, and ministry.