The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. Genesis 2:15-17
Adam and Eve had it made in the Garden! They had freedom… real freedom.
Some people have a hard time with that statement. They say “no they didn’t – their freedom was limited because they couldn’t eat from every tree.” But take another look at what God said about their menu options. They could “surely eat of every tree of the garden” (Ge 2:16). That’s not limited. They were free to eat the produce from any and every tree including the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The catch was if they ate from that one tree, they’d die. That’s not limiting their freedom, that’s warning them to watch out how they exercise their freedom. That’s love in the midst of freedom.
God gave Adam and Eve the freedom to choose – to either choose to trust God and His word to them or choose to trust their own inclinations and desires. They chose the latter and we’ve been living in that wrestling ever since.
I was driving home from the office the other day, wrestling with this idea of freedom. It dawned on me that I had the freedom to be driving. In fact, I had the freedom to drive any way I darn well pleased. I had the freedom to push that accelerator to the floor and speed past everyone. I had the freedom to bounce over the curb and race across people’s lawns if someone got in my way. But the consequences wouldn’t be pleasant – not just for me but for a lot of other people. That’s why there are laws for how we drive. That’s not limiting my freedom to drive. That’s providing wise guidelines for me to safely exercise my ability to drive. What a mess of a traffic jam we’d be in if we all drove how our self-centered desires led us to drive.
Well… sometimes our world seems to be “a mess of a traffic jam”. God’s patience with us is amazing. He still gives us the freedom to choose – His way of love or our way of loving ourselves. “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 1 Pt 2:16 You have the freedom to choose today.
By Dan Elliott