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The Tragedy of Disobedience
By Gordon MacDonald

And the Lord God commanded 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.” Genesis 2:16-17

In the first two chapters of the Bible we learn of stewardship and its opposite: disobedience.

In the early days of creation, all was well in the first community God had established. There is mystery and beauty in the words that describe them: the man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. When these words were written many years later, how far the human race had come! The total transparency of the Garden, including spiritual and intellectual "nakedness" as well as physical nakedness, was gone. In its place was a society in which everything was divided and covered up.

How had it happened?

Answer: the principle of stewardship had been violated. Adam and Eve, God’s first stewards, simply decided that they knew more than God. It can hardly be said any plainer.

Some critics of this story have scoffed at the triviality of eating fruit. However, if the first man and woman could not keep even this simple command — “eat from any tree but this one” (see Genesis 2:16) — how could they have remained faithful to issues of greater magnitude?

Those who live as faithful stewards of the Master do not question his word. He knows what is his to control and use, and he knows what to leave alone. There is true freedom in following God’s directives; conversely, our disobedience brings only the tragic loss of trust and intimacy with our Master.

In hiding from God, Adam hid from himself (“I was ashamed”) as well as from Eve ("it's her fault"). And as these three relationships imploded, so did the relationship of the community within creation. From this point forward, creation was no longer Adam and Eve's to manage. In effect it became the enemy: something to be overcome if they were to survive.

When a steward breaks faith with the Master, tragedy results.


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