Maybe Eve was deceived by the Serpent; Adam knew better.
Eve had to grapple with the devil himself. All that it took Adam to fall was another offer.
Standing with God in the Garden, with nothing to distract from the morning-new glories around him, Adam heard the word of the Lord: It’s all yours, Adam. I’m giving you this to take care of; and you can eat anything! Only note this one tree … don’t eat that fruit, or you’ll die.
Later, with God up in heaven and Eve by his side, Adam let her eat a piece and when she handed him one, ate his own.
Adam knew better.
We’re just like Adam
But before we’re too hard on him: don’t we do the same? We listen to God speak in church: Honor your parents. Forgive your enemies. Don’t steal from other people or gossip about them. We nod our heads and agree, this really is the best way to live. Thank you, God, for your word.
Then once out of church, it’s out of mind, too. With God out of the way, we sit among our colleagues or stand with our neighbors and admire the fruit they are eating. Here — take some! they offer. And we bite.
Even though we know better, too. We’re just like Adam.
Psalm 1 shows the way forward:
So what’s a poor human to do? Psalm 1 provides the answer.
What not to do …
“Blessed [happy] is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stands in the way of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of scoffers …
Notice the progression from walking along to standing and finally to sitting. Also:
- To “walk in” counsel is to follow advice.
- To “stand in the way of” is to take your stand with
- To “sit in the seat of” is to sit like a judge
Notice how listening and accepting counsel becomes agreeing and finally acting and being like. The blessed, happy person knows this. He doesn’t just refrain from doing evil. He is careful not to listen to the wrong-doer’s advice. He moves on, rather than taking in that way of doing things.
… and what to do, instead
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night. …
The person who would be happy, takes delight in another kind of talk and counsel: the law of the Lord.
“Law” in this verse is, literally, torah. In Hebrew, torah is not just laws as in rules, but God’s directions for how to live a blessed life. Torah is the whole of God’s communication with us, the revelation of who he is and how to live in his image, as his children. Torah is the story of his love and redemption, along with the way to get there.
Rather than taking in the words of sinners and acting on them, the happy man takes in the word of God. He doesn’t leave what he hears at church, or imagine God has left him alone in the world; he takes the Word with him, coming back to it 24/7. Then when the apple basket passes his way, he is ready. He recalls the Word … and turns the fruit down.
God’s word gives life!
“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” —Matthew 4:4
God’s word gives us life. But unless we live by that word, we die.
Psalm 1 shows what that means:
“He is like a tree
planted by streams of water,
That yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. …
God’s word is like a seed that carries his divine life. Plant it inside your heart by thinking on it day and night (not just at church!) and living by it, and you become like a well-watered tree. With roots plunged into the source of life, you grow strong. Like that tree, you can withstand drought and heat. And you bear good fruit for others.
But the words of the world suck us dry
“The wicked are not so,
but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.”
The wisdom of the world has no such power. It leaves you dry and rootless like a tumbleweed or dust. One puff of hardship or temptation and you blow away.
Be strong in the Word
Do you want to remain strong while you live in the world? Be well-watered by the Word.
Drink from the stream of life: through frequent reception of the Sacraments. By prayer and ongoing communion with the Lord. And by listening to—dwelling on, pondering—God’s word.
Commit Scripture to memory. Allow it to form and to feed you, to guide and protect you. Let the Word be so strong and loud within you that you recognize the Serpent’s voice for what it is … and say no.
© 2021 Sarah Christmyer
Be strong in the Word! Get all 80 talks from The Word 2021 International Bible Summit on video and mp3 so you can watch or listen at your leisure. Among them are two talks from me: Finding the Love of God in the Old Testament and Live in Your Bible! – How to Choose (and Use) a Bible. Find out more here.