Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Making good decisions

What's the problem with the choice Eve makes?

We need to learn to read the Bible for what it says, not for what we think it says.

So when you read Genesis 3 and pay attention to the decision Eve makes, what's wrong? She notices three things about the fruit of this particular tree. First, it's good for food. Nutritious. Eve is reading the label. Totally organic. Part of a balanced diet. She's thinking about the good of her body and her family, and this is a good choice.

Second, the fruit is "a delight to the eyes" (ESV). It's beautiful. It's attractive. Eve, like most women, pays attention to her aesthetic sensibilities. She notices when things are out of harmony. She appreciates coordination and beauty. So the fruit is not only nutritious, it is attractive, it's beautiful, it's pleasing. Having this around her will enhance her home and her life.

Third, it is "to be desired to make one wise." Eve is not only thinking about food on the table and about visually pleasing surroundings. She is looking ahead, trying to improve herself. Like the woman in "Drops of Jupiter" (Train)

She checks out Mozart while she does tae bo
Reminds me that there's room to grow, hey, hey

So what's wrong with Eve's decision? She sounds like an informed consumer. She is making a responsible, ethical, good choice. How come the Bible -- and generations ever since -- have condemned this choice as evil? Even the Apostle Paul says she was "deceived" (see 2 Corinthians 11:3 and 1 Timothy 2:14) by the serpent. How so?

It's fairly simple, actually, and it's disturbing to the core for those of us who try to live good lives because we want to please God. Eve made a decision on her own. That's all there is to it.

Well, there is one tiny detail more: Eve made a decision on her own regarding something about which God had already given instructions.

So when someone comes to me and says, "I know the Bible says __________, but I've really been thinking this through and I believe doing this other thing is a better decision" I hear the echo of the serpent's voice. For example, think about the many, many people who are stuck right now in financial hardship because they overextended themselves to get into a bigger house or a larger mortgage. They made good decisions based on what seemed wise and the good advice they were getting at the time from their mortgage broker. "I know the Bible says I shouldn't go farther into debt, but the housing market just keeps going up and if I don't get in now, I'll never be able to afford this house ..." Or think about the many, many people who have overextended themselves by buying toys (plasma TV's, ski boats, second or third homes, timeshares ...) who thought, "I know the Bible says to live a modest and quiet life, but you have to enjoy life a little, too, and I've earned this." Or those who got in over their heads using credit cards, who thought, "I know the Bible says debt is foolish, but the Bible was written in ancient times, and this is just the way things are today."

It's not just finances, either. Plenty of people have bailed out of marriages or given up the habit of regular worship because they think they know better. And they suffer the consequences. That's the thing -- we always want to make up our own minds, make our own decisions, do what seems right to us, and we never want to live with the negative consequences of our actions. Just like Adam and Eve.

So biblically speaking, is there any such thing as a "good decision"? I don't think so. I think there are godly decisions and ungodly decisions. The only people who could possibly, in biblical terms, make a "good decision" are those who have never heard God's word and are trying their best to live wisely without the knowledge of God. The rest of us are accountable to seek God and make godly decisions. When we don't do this, we carry the consequences of our actions. Of course, God's good promise is that he works -- even in our foolish decisions, even in random evils that occur in the world, even in the face of systemic evil that overcomes us -- to bring about good for our sake (see Romans 8:28). He is faithful, even when we are faithless.

Thanks be to God!

1 comment:

  1. Amen...we should all listen to his quiet voice. Thank you for your inspirational writing.