And the Lord God commanded the man,
saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;
but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
you shall not eat…
Genesis 2: 16-17
“Why, Lord? The fruit is beautiful, it looks luscious, it smells divine and it is within our reach. You’ve told us that we can eat of all the other trees, what is so different about this one here in the very center of the Garden?” (Genesis 3:3)
A good question–if Adam or Eve questioned the strange command that God had just given them. They were in a virtual paradise with every need met. But you know what happens when the sign is put up, “Wet Paint Don’t touch!” The one thing we are cautioned NOT to do becomes to us a gnawing temptation.
Just what was so formidable about this tree? One thing and only one thing. The fruit of that tree–when eaten–gave the basic understanding of good and evil and the myriad counterparts of those two words–poles apart! Satan isolated the import when he told Eve, “Eat of this tree and you’ll be like God.” And just what does that mean? That we can make our own decisions concerning good and evil without God’s help. That we are capable of facing the world in our own strength. We don’t need God. “Don’t call me, Lord. I’ll call You if I need You.” Adam and Eve through that one act of disobedience became “independent” from God. They rejected His authority over them–and tragically passed that rebellious spirit to all of their progeny–you and me!
God wants to be our God. He wants to be the One who decides what is good for us and what we must avoid like the plague. He wants to be the One who cares for us, protects us, guides us, keeps us out of trouble–and He can’t do that if we’re sitting in His chair “playing God.” If we tend to analyze the situation and decide, “That’s His opinion. I’ve read a lot about this and it is not the menace that He is making it out to be. I’ll do it my way. I can’t see that this is a serious problem.” How many of us have seen this attitude in our children? “Everyone else is doing it and they say it’s fun. No way am I going to let your false sense of values control me. You’re way too cautious. I’ve made up my mind so just forget it!”
So it is with all of us. God tells us what to do and what not to do, but we decide for ourselves and ignore His pleas. Our motto becomes, “I’m capable of making my own decisions, thank You. I can do it and I’ll do it MY way!”
So we have an Untouchable Tree in the garden of our life–just as Adam and Eve did. We are pretty verbal about what they did that day in the Garden:
“That ‘cotton-pickin’ Eve! She’s the one to blame!”
“They were both dummies!”
“I wish I had been there. I certainly wouldn’t have aggravated God like they did!”
And we blatantly blame the first man and his woman for our sordid state of affairs.
God is the “Caretaker” of that tree and has posted a sign: WET PAINT DON’T TOUCH! He longs for us to accept His authority in our lives. He will guide us and warn us about evil that might be in our path. He longs to care for us tenderly and wisely. He gave His Son to prove His love for us. He will satisfy all our needs. If only we would let Him be in charge of that tree instead of reaching out and grabbing the fruit on our own–thinking that we know what is best for us–eating forbidden fruit with disastrous results.
Lord, it seems to take away MY control over myself–letting You decide what to do and what not to do for me. I tend to think, “Why did You give me a brain if You didn’t want me to use it?” But I am beginning to understand now. I use my God-given brain constantly in many, crucial and casual areas of my life, but deciding between what is good for me and what is not good for me isn’t in my job description. That ball is in your job jar! Help me to keep my hand out of Your jar, please.