It all started in a garden flourishing with the fragrance of peace found only in the presence of God. The stench of lies wafted across the dew speckled blades of green grass.
Ever so slyly, the enemy enticed Eve to focus on what she couldn’t have rather than rejoice in all that God had given her.
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1b)
Eve gave a valiant, but weak, attempt to correct the serpent: “. . . We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” (Genesis 3:2-3)
But after two bold lies from the serpent, Scripture tells us: “The woman was convinced.”
I can’t even begin to judge our naïve sister, Eve. How many times have I focused on what I felt God was withholding from me rather than what He was abundantly offering me? How often have I stumbled because I didn’t remember the verse that could guide me onto God’s path during my weakest moments of temptation?
If only I would’ve taken the time to memorize, or even read Scripture. If only I had prepared for this test.
Our precious sister, Eve, was not prepared. She fell into the trap that the enemy sets for all God’s people. She added her spin to what God said. Instead of repeating God’s words from Genesis 1:16, Eve declared that He said touching the fruit would cause them to die.
The enemy saw the crack in Eve’s armor.
If the woman didn’t know what God said, the devil could certainly twist His words and use them out of context.
In reading Scripture, it appears that Eve was speaking from what she heard from Adam. She was dependent on her husband’s interpretation of God’s holy words.
She wasn’t prepared to wield the sword of truth because her blade wasn’t sharpened.
Maybe their fall was understandable. They didn’t have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. They didn’t have the Scriptures to study and reflect on. And here we are letting our Bibles collect dust.
Eve had no choice but to rely on what she was comfortable with, what she could see.
“She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.” (Genesis 3:6, NLT)
She saw. She admired. She wanted. So, she took.
She gave in to her fleshly desires and then shared her mess with her husband.
Scripture makes no mention of Eve telling Adam from which tree she picked that tantalizing treat. But it does make mention of an interesting fact that’s easy to miss.
“She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:6b, emphasis mine)
According to the word of God, Adam was with Eve when she was being tempted by the serpent. Yet, we don’t read one word of exhortation from Adam. Not once does he tell her to stay away from the whispering snake.
Could it be that Adam wasn’t really paying attention to his wife? Was he slacking as the spiritual leader of God’s first family?
Or was he just as curious as Eve, just as discontent, just as focused on what he felt God was withholding from him, rather than all that God was providing?
And why didn’t Eve consult with Adam? Why didn’t she ask her husband to get rid of that rascally reptile?
As I read this story for the umpteenth time, I was grateful that I decided to read a new translation this year. My fresh perspective wasn’t only due to reading the NASB versus the NIV or NLT, though. Over the last couple of years, God’s been softening my heart and stretching me in the area for marriage.
This year, I was open to receive the message he was using to convict my heart.
By the grace of God alone, Alan and I will be celebrating 19 years of marriage in March 2013. Every year, my husband buys me one dozen flowers for each year we’ve been married and one dozen for the year to come. These flowers remind me to reflect on the beauty of our testimony.
Our past is a medley of God’s faithfulness in action. We are living proof of His redeeming love and multiple miracles of mercy.
As I prayed through this week’s scheduled readings, I saw how vital it is for me to take responsibility for my part when it comes to the sinful attitudes that can poison my marriage.
If I want to nurture the most important earthly relationship that God has blessed me with, I need to realize that both my husband and I have distinct roles and responsibilities.
There are four things we can learn from this portion of the story of Adam and Eve that will help us grow deeper in our relationships with God, with others and, if we’re married, with our spouse.
1. We are each responsible for nurturing our own personal relationship with Christ.
Although we may like to push as if we are the holy spirit in the lives of others, we tend to skimp on the discipline it requires to invest in our own spiritual growth.
At times, we settle for what we’ve heard rather than seeking God for ourselves. We think we can grow when we snack on God’s Word instead of feasting on His nourishing truth daily.
Genesis 2:16-17 shows when Adam received a powerful word from God. Though we know the LORD offered an intimate connection with Eve, creating her and bringing her to Adam (Genesis 2:22), there is no record of their communication regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
It seems Eve was unprepared to deal with the enemy’s attack because she wasn’t suited up for the battle. She might have known what God said, but she didn’t seem to truly take Him at His word.
2. An intimate and transparent community, dependent on God and diligent about the study of His Word, is vital to spiritual growth.
The Bible teaches that people need other people in order to live godly lives.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)
The sharpening stone we should be using is the Word of God.
The Lord doesn’t need us to ad lib. or paraphrase His truth, either. We can see how well that worked for Eve.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)
When we need exhortation, the Holy Spirit infuses life transforming power into each word as God speaks into our situation. He often uses His people to get His message across to us. He uses people to help us mature in our faith.
Yet, it is within the most intimate relationship of marriage that we, too often, miss our growing opportunities.
We build walls that prevent us from hearing God as He refines us through our relationship with our spouse.
3. While accountability is necessary and helpful, we are ultimately responsible for own actions.
Scripture reminds us how easy it is for the self-righteous to stumble into sin.
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13, NIV)
For the enemy there is no greater prize than Christians believing they are not fully redeemed from their past or completely empowered by the Holy Spirit to live in righteousness in the present.
We may get tripped up as we journey toward spiritual maturity. But intercessory prayers, as well as encouragement and support through loving accountability, are like physical therapy. The growing pains will hurt, but the healing is real.
God designed us to flourish, like a glorious flower garden, as we serve one another within a healthy and holy community of His people. But the devil wants us to fear vulnerability and hide from transparency, which nurtures our intimacy with God and others.
We were designed for community. We need community.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NIV)
4. Though we must suffer consequences for our sins, God never stops loving us or providing for us.
“The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)
Even after they tried to hide from God. Even after they tried to cast blame instead of taking responsibility for their own actions. Even after they failed to seek Him and depend on Him. God provided. God loved. God protected.
Though we may want to believe Adam and Eve deserved another chance, God did what was best. He knew then that we would follow our wandering hearts and succumb to our fleshly desires. He knew then that we would struggle in developing and maintaining healthy and holy relationships.
He knew then that we would need a perfect Savior.
When God banished Adam and Eve from the garden, He set into motion His wonderful plan of redeeming love.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17, NIV)
You are loved beyond measure, beautiful woman of God!
And we are not meant to charge through life alone.
I pray we will embrace God’s pruning process and enjoy the beautiful blooms of spiritual growth in 2013.
I want to encourage and prayerfully support you as we endeavor to grow deeper in our personal relationships with Christ and with others, and as we mature into the godly wives God created us to be.
I’ve committed to participating in the one year Bible online reading schedule. I’m reading through the NASB and NIV Bible this year. I’ve committed to becoming more involved in my church’s women’s ministry, specifically in the area of prayer and sharing the word of God. And I’ve committed to loving my husband, in word and in deed, in order to avoid Eve’s dilemma.
What will you commit to doing to nurture your personal relationship with Christ in 2013?
How can you better express love, grace, and gratitude toward your husband in 2013?