Some of my favorite memes to browse through are the “You Had One Job” memes. These are pictures of mistakes people made which seem so obvious and avoidable — think an outdoor bench installed under a water drain, or a stop sign that reads “SOTP” — that it’s hard to understand how they went unnoticed.
It’s difficult for me not to think about that meme whenever I read about Adam and Eve disobeying God in Genesis 3.
In the first two chapters of Genesis, God creates the world and places Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Eden is an environment filled with pleasing sights and aromas. And for food, God tells them they are “free to eat from any tree of the garden” (Genesis 2:16). There’s just one tree they aren’t to eat from. Everything else is fair game.
But in Genesis 3, a serpent appears and tempts Adam and Eve to eat from the one tree that was off-limits. Tragically, they listen to the serpent. How could Adam and Eve so ignore God’s lavish generosity to them?
Genesis 3 feels like a “You had one job!” moment to me. There was one thing God told them not to do. They did it anyway, and we’re still experiencing the effects of that decision today. Sometimes I’ve even thought, “If I were in Adam and Eve’s place, I would’ve obeyed God!”
But is that true? The more I think about it, I feel like I would have made the same choice Adam and Eve did.
Notice the serpent’s tactics in Genesis 3:1-5. First, he makes God out to be more restrictive than He is: “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” No, He didn’t. God said they could eat from any tree except one, lest they die (Genesis 2:17).
Next, the serpent contradicts God, saying that they won’t die if they eat from that tree (Genesis 3:4). Then he says: “God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (3:5).
The serpent’s tactics were designed to cast doubt on God’s goodness. The picture of God painted in Genesis 1-2 is a God who is good and generous to Adam and Eve, who puts them in a beautiful garden with more than enough food. We might even say He spoils them!
Yet the serpent paints a very different picture of God. In his picture, God is insecure, selfish, and not to be trusted. He’s a God who is holding out on them. And that’s when it hits me: do I ever feel like God is holding out on me? And does that feeling ever lead me to disobey Him?
Sadly, the answer is yes. I might not say out loud that I think God is holding out on me, but what do my actions say? What do I tend to grumble and complain about?
Or think about it from this angle: do I ever, like Adam and Eve, knowingly disobey God? Again, sadly, yes. And what does my disobedience communicate if not, “God, I know what you said, but…” fill in the blank:
“But my way seems better than yours.”
“But I don’t trust your timing in this.”
The truth is, I often buy into the same lie Adam and Eve did. And this leads to all sorts of sins in my life, from ungratefulness to God to outright disobedience to His commands.
Sometimes I wonder what would I tell Adam and Eve if I could be there that moment, right before they disobeyed God’s command. I’d tell them to look around and consider God’s generosity and kindness to them. Yet those are the very reminders that I constantly need, because I’m also prone to forget. And I can’t help but wonder how many sins of my past could have been avoided if I had remembered in the moment that God is generous, not withholding. That He is for me.
Like Adam and Eve, I too, “have one job” — to believe God cares for me and trust that His ways are best. That job is sometimes easier said than done, but I find that it is easier the more I dwell on the supreme demonstration of God’s love, captured beautifully in Romans 5:8: “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”