Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 1 January 19:
1. Genesis 3:1, 4-6 — “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?… You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Adam and Eve knew right from wrong before eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They understood God’s prohibition against eating from the tree and that obeying God was good and disobeying Him was bad. God gave them this prohibition personally and also explained the consequences of disobedience, which was death. (Gen. 2:16–17) The only knowledge Adam and Eve lacked was practical knowledge of evil – they had never experienced it because they had never disobeyed God. Adam and Eve didn’t really have a knowledge problem, they had a heart problem, a love problem, and a pride problem. They knew God’s command, but they didn’t really care. Beyond that, to justify their sin, they (Adam was with Eve during the encounter with the serpent) questioned God’s character, His motives, and His integrity. The fruit of the tree was the choice to defy God, to challenge His authority, and to become an independent decision-maker with self-determination. (See Proverbs 1:29-32) This was no small mistake, it was direct rebellion against the Almighty and rejection of His perfect love and will. This was a rejection of God Himself. Jesus explains later that all sins, even the seemingly insignificant ones, render us guilty of the greatest sin of all, failing to honor God as Lord and to love Him with all our heart, soul and strength. (Matthew 5 and Mark 12:30) There is no small bite of the apple. We marginalize sin because we first marginalize God. We justify our sin because we challenge the justice of God, just as Adam and Eve did in the garden. First, we question the clarity of His word, then we question God Himself. Then, when we take a bite of the fruit and experience the consequences of sin, we make excuses, claiming ignorance, blaming others (Genesis 3:12, 13), even blaming God – “The woman you gave to be with me…gave me the fruit.” Armed with our excuses, we presume upon God’s mercy and grace – “I’m really not that bad…. My sin is really no big deal…. God must understand and forgive.” We justify ourselves – ‘Just as if I had never sinned.’ When we marginalize God, we marginalize sin, which renders His grace seemingly insignificant – The Good News is no longer that good, perhaps irrelevant. The first step to reconciliation with God is respecting Him as God and seeing Him first as “Holy, Holy, Holy.” (Isaiah 6:3) As Proverbs says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7). Proverbs 1:29 says this is a conscience choice. The next step is to see our sin as God sees it, to be overwhelmed by the grief of it, to truly mourn over it. (see Matthew 5:3, 4). Only then are we in a position to be truly ‘Amazed by Grace,’ as described in the old familiar hymn. The only thing more shocking than our sin is God’s imaginable love and forgiveness — “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life…. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (John 3:16; Romans 5:8) Sin destroyed God’s “good” creation, and mankind was separated from God, dead in sin. In Christ, we have Life, we are redeemed, and through Christ we are restored to a ‘right’ (righteous) relationship with God:
– 2 Corinthians 5:17 — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
– Romans 5:17, 19 — For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ…. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
Now this is the kind of Good News that, when fully appreciated, should cause us to shout it from the rooftops! What we do with the Gospel reveals how much we really value it. Who we share it with reveals how much we really love. Yesterday, we saw that, before the fall, God made mankind His stewards or managers of His physical creation. In Christ we have been given the stewardship of His Gospel. We have been entrusted with His message of reconciliation. This is our primary mission. How are you doing? If you are not having trouble containing your excitement about the Gospel, and if you aren’t overcome with a sense of urgency to share it with others, pray to God to give you a fresh perspective.
– 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19 — All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
– 1 Corinthians 4:1, 2 — This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
– 1 Peter 4:10 — As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
– 1 Corinthians 9:17 — For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.
– Colossians 1:25 — of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known,
– 1 Timothy 1:4 — nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 Jan 19: Make you New Years resolution to fulfill the Great Commandment and Great Commission.