Thursday, January 1, 2009

Justice and Mercy

Today's Daily Soap {Scripture | Observation | Application | Prayer}

9 God called to the Man: "Where are you?"
10He said, "I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid."
11 God said, "Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?"
12 The Man said, "The Woman you gave me as a companion, she gave me fruit from the tree, and, yes, I ate it."
God said to the Woman, "What is this that you've done?"
13 "The serpent seduced me," she said, "and I ate."
14-15 God told the serpent: "Because you've done this, you're cursed, cursed beyond all cattle and wild animals, Cursed to slink on your belly and eat dirt all your life. I'm declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers. He'll wound your head, you'll wound his heel."
16 He told the Woman: "I'll multiply your pains in childbirth; you'll give birth to your babies in pain. You'll want to please your husband, but he'll lord it over you."
17-19 He told the Man: "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree That I commanded you not to eat from, 'Don't eat from this tree,' The very ground is cursed because of you; getting food from the ground Will be as painful as having babies is for your wife; you'll be working in pain all your life long. The ground will sprout thorns and weeds, you'll get your food the hard way, Planting and tilling and harvesting, sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk, Until you return to that ground yourself, dead and buried; you started out as dirt, you'll end up dirt."
20The Man, known as Adam, named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all the living.
21 God made leather clothing for Adam and his wife and dressed them.
GENESIS 3:9-21 [MSG]
OBSERVATION: God provides, even when we forsake what He has already given us.

It was the dawn of time, and man had everything -- complete dominion over the earth and all that inhabit it. A wife. Food. Comfort. And only one restriction: "Don't eat from this tree." How simple is that? To have anything and everything you want in all the world, with only one simple restriction -- not to eat from one tree. It's not like it was the only tree in the world, either. Just one tree. Everything else that man and his wife needed were provided for him by God with no limitations.

But man blew it, didn't he? The woman fell to the temptation of Satan, then man fell to the temptation of his wife, and they ate from the forbidden tree. And their eyes were opened. They could see. They could see their own nakedness, and felt shame. They could see the difference between good and evil (which, up to this time, was very basic -- as the serpent was evil, and everything else was good). They hid from God.

As if! He's all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, and all-present -- as if you can ever hide from God anywhere (though many of us still try it today). But God found them, of course, cowering in clothes they had fashioned together from fig leaves. God found them, heard their case, and passed judgement, punishing all three of them.

Because man couldn't leave well enough alone -- because being blind to evil and having everything good in the world just wasn't good enough -- man has been cursed to toil his entire life to provide for his family (I think of this today as I write this from work on New Years Day, when so many are enjoying a holiday off). But even after passing judgement and punishment upon His greatest creation, God still provided. God, who had every right to be fuming mad over the disobedience of His children, made clothing for them from leather that was more durable and more comfortable than their fig leaves, and clothed them. He punished them, but still provided for them.

Justice and mercy. Grace and discipline. Do I show such love for my own children that I can punish them in one breath and, moments later, move on with life, loving and providing for them? Or do I hold a grudge against them (even for a very short time) for refusing to obey me? Can I be more like my Father in Heaven?
Lord, help me to follow the example you have modeled so many times throughout eternity -- the example you modeled with Adam and Eve. Help me to be a better father to my children. To love them, provide for them, and correct them. To balance the scales of justice and mercy.

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