Only One “No”

Many of us are curious about our roots and have questioned our purpose for existence. Answers are provided in Genesis 2:7,15. “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being…The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

Man was originally formed by God and given the gift of work. I say it is a gift because it is an opportunity for partnership with God. Work is meant to be fulfilling and have purpose in our lives.

This garden was filled with all kinds of trees – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:9).

God instructed the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (2:16-17). All the trees in the garden were offered to man … except one. So much extravagance. Blessings in abundance. Many ”yeses.” Only one “no.”

As soon as God created man, He began giving him gifts, setting healthy boundaries and … testing him. Maybe if we saw all of life through this lens, we would experience more joy, contentment, gratitude, restraint and success.

1. God gives gifts. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. God not only gave man purpose in a beautiful, fulfilling workplace, He gave him the gift of free will. Man was given an abundance from which he was ”free to eat” and only forbidden to eat from one tree. He was even told the consequences he would suffer for choosing to defy God.

Yes, mankind has the ability to make choices – we can choose good or we can choose evil. We can choose to obey God’s commands or we can choose disobedience. And every choice will have consequences.

2. God establishes boundaries. Ironically, walking within God’s boundaries, we actually experience freedom – freedom from shame, fear and brokenness.

God had good reasons for forbidding Adam to eat of the one tree. He doesn’t have to explain Himself or His reasons but I personally think mankind is incapable of handling the full knowledge of good and evil.

With Putin’s attacks on the Ukraine, I have repeatedly said, “I don’t understand the lust for power. I am perplexed by the insatiable appetite man has for conquering others.” How can one man morally order fellow countrymen to gives their lives in an unprovoked war upon fathers, mothers and even children? How can one be so greedy and evil? I do not comprehend that level of evil.

I don’t understand genocide. I don’t understand trafficking people. I don’t understand cruelty. And the list goes on. So how can I possibly understand the full realm of evil?

On the flip side, I don’t understand the depth of God’s goodness because my flesh, heart and will are often driven by self interest. I’m pretty sure that I’ve only gotten a taste of His goodness.

What I have learned to accept is that I can trust God’s commands are issued for good reasons. They are given for my protection and other reasons beyond my comprehension.

3) Because we have free will, we will face tests. The Bible is filled with the testing of men and women. And God has His eyes on the process we go through as we make our decisions. The process reveals much about our heart condition. The process reveals our feelings towards God and our thoughts of Him. The process reveals whether we trust God.

The big question of the day is always…what will I choose?

Questions to ponder:

Do I see opportunities to partner with God?

Am I grateful for what I have been given?

Am I content to live within the boundaries God has established?

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