It’s no secret that I was a police officer for 21 years of my work career up to this point. One of my colleagues, Earl McFadden, used to say, “Blaine, when there’s a policy in place, just follow the policy and you’ll be ok.” What he was talking about was when there’s a written policy in place, whether it was for the police department or the institution as a whole, if something’s in doubt, just follow the plan and you’ll be ok. It’s already written out what’s expected of you. It was really great advice, and I watched a lot of people, as did he, not follow this advice, and things didn’t always work out so well for them.
I really like this train of thought, and it’s led me to think about how this might apply to The Bible. There are some important lessons in The Bible that kind of follow this principle. If we had done what God’s plan was for us from the beginning, think about how completely different the world would be today. You see, Adam and Eve failed to follow God’s instructions; they failed to follow the policy, and so have the people that have come in all of the generations since.
So, how do we go about getting this right? What do we learn from this? I have three things to share with you on this topic. First, God told them to take care of the animals and the Garden of Eden. Second, we were put on this Earth to work and to serve, not to be served. Finally, accept responsibility for your actions.
As far as the first one is concerned, just follow the policy and you’ll be ok. You see, God had a policy spelled out very clearly in Genesis 1:26-30:
“God spoke: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.’ God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. God blessed them: ‘Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.’ Then God said, ‘I’ve given you every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth And every kind of fruit-bearing tree, given them to you for food. To all animals and all birds, everything that moves and breathes, I give whatever grows out of the ground for food.’ And there it was.”
There it was, indeed. There was God’s policy for us, clearly laid out in black and white. All we human-folk had to do was to follow the policy, and we would have been fine; we would have been ok. As we all know, things turned out just a little bit differently.
Here’s what Genesis 2:7 and 2:15 lay out for us, with more information specifically about God’s instructions to Adam: “God formed man out of the dirt from the ground, and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The man came alive – a living soul!GOD took the Man and set him down in the Garden of Eden to work the ground and keep it in order.” God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to work and serve, not to be served. In other words, what God told him was, “Adam, your job is to take care of this beautiful garden I have created for you. It’s got everything you need in it. All you have to do is work and maintain it. But understand: there’s no free lunch here; you’ve got to work for it.” God put us on this Earth to work and serve, not to be served. We’ve got to work for the things we need in life and the things we want in life. You see, most people want to get the harvest first and then go back later and plant the seeds. Most people think, “Lord, if you’ll just give me the stuff I need, I promise I’ll go out and do the work for it just as soon as I get it.” Life works the other way around. You have to plant the seeds first before they bear fruit.
A life of service is the best path to a life of joy, independence, and significance. A life of selfishness and expecting to be served by others leads to misery, dependence, and irrelevance. We were pit here to work and serve, not to be served.
So, along comes Eve. God puts Adam to sleep, takes a rib out of his body, and created Eve so that Adam could have a companion. He’s looked over all the animals and named them, and their good, but they’re not great companions – thank goodness. So, God comes up with Eve. Adam said, “I have named this person ‘woman’, in honor of the fact that she came from man. What a wonderful companion! We’re going to leave our mothers and fathers – one in the flesh, one in each other.” Ok, I wasn’t there when it happened, but that’s a pretty good summation of what was said. Then along comes the snake. The serpent. God said to Adam and Eve, “Look, you can eat anything you want in this beautiful garden I’ve created for you. Just don’t eat anything from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Don’t do it, because you will surely die if you do.” Along comes the serpent, who said, “Ah, don’t listen to that stuff. If you eat out of The Tree, you’ll be so knowledgeable and wise, you’ll be as smart as God. He doesn’t want you to know that.” Eve takes the bait, and eats the fruit. Then she takes the fruit to Adam, and says, “Here, husband! Eat this and watch how smart you’ll become!” He said, “Ok”, and ate the fruit. Immediately, they realized they were naked, which was never a problem before. They were embarrassed, so they created clothes out of fig leaves to cover themselves up.
Now, along comes God for a little stroll through The Garden of Eden to check on progress and see how things are going. God knew the very important concept of “inspect for what you expect”. God enters The Garden, as described in Genesis 3:9-13:
“GOD called to the Man: ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.’ GOD said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?’ 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?’ ‘The serpent seduced me,’ she said, ‘and I ate.’
Adam did what men have done since the beginning of time: blamed it on a woman. Eve did what women have done since the beginning of time: blamed it on someone else (the snake). And the snake didn’t have a leg to stand on!
People have failed to accept responsibility for their actions since the beginning of time. They’ve looked to blame others for their actions since humanity’s first days, the purpose being to avoid the consequences of what they have done. The irony of this is that most consequences are actually much lower when people accept responsibility for their actions. One of the sayings where I used to work, when people goofed up but accepted responsibility for what they’d done, was, “Don’t worry, we’ll let you keep your hand.” What I’ve seen, and what others both higher and lower in that job saw, was that people that failed to accept responsibility for their actions, and shifted blame on someone else, often suffered great consequences, including suspensions, demotions, and separation from employment.
Another terrible consequence for passing blame onto other people is that they ain’t gonna like you none too much. You won’t make yourself none too popular with those you place unjust blame onto. And they’re going to tell everyone else what you’ve done. “Hey, man, he did this, but he just blamed me.” Everyone will find out about what’s been done very quickly; word spreads very fast in today’s age. The days of sending messages by carrier pigeon are long gone. They used to say in the advertising business, “If a customer has a bad experience with you, they will go out and tell nine or 10 people.” Now, they tell thousands of people on the internet. Things go viral quickly these days, and you’d never want your personal or professional reputation to go viral in a bad way. Always seek and accept responsibility for your actions.
To sum things up:
- God told humanity to take care of the animals and The Garden
- We were put here to work and serve, not to be served
- Seek and accept responsibility for your actions
By learning from the mistakes made by the first two humans to ever walk the Earth, we can live a more fulfilling, Christian life, both here and in our eternal home in Heaven.
May God bless you, now and always.