Changed But Not Set Aside
by Kristi Meyer
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
To the woman [God] said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:6, 7, 16-19).
Last week, we read about that which was “very good”: man and woman created in the image of God and fashioned as complementary beings—beings intended to work together to benefit all of creation. How long did this “very goodness” last? In terms of time, we don’t know for sure, although many Bible scholars speculate a shorter rather than longer timeframe. In terms of literature, the answer is clear: just two chapters.
The beauty, perfection, and life of Genesis 1-2 gave way to the ugliness, sin, and death of Genesis 3.
The beauty, perfection, and life of Genesis 1-2 gave way to the ugliness, sin, and death of Genesis 3. Instead of faithfully living out her unique calling of helper—a calling we will examine more closely in a couple of weeks—Eve took on Adam’s role of headship. She saw, she took, she ate, she gave.
We dare not place all the blame on Eve; her abandonment of her calling is certainly not the only sin committed in Genesis 3 nor the only reason evil came into the world. But she did sin by abandoning her calling, and consequences ensued—both for Eve and for all women of all time. No longer would Eve’s unique calling be solely a source of blessing. No longer would she joyfully live out this calling in perfect harmony and contentment. Now she would struggle against this calling and experience trouble and anguish because of it.
We also dare not insinuate that Eve was the only one who stepped out of her unique calling. Where was Adam in all of this? He was there. He was with Eve. Rather than being the head, the one providing direction and guidance, he instead followed and took what Eve gave. Adam too took on a role that was not his, he too sinned in this way, and he too would experience consequences. No longer would Adam’s calling as head be well-received or easy to exercise. No longer would his headship be absolute over the world that God had created and called him to rule. Now even the soil would turn against him.
But in the midst of all the ugliness, sin, and death found in Genesis 3, there’s also beauty, redemption, and life: forgiveness for Adam and Eve’s sin and the first promise of the coming Savior. God forgave Adam and Eve for abandoning their unique callings just as he forgives us for the times we abandon our unique callings.
God forgave Adam and Eve for abandoning their unique callings just as he forgives us for the times we abandon our unique callings.
And because of this forgiveness, we are motivated to give thanks for our unique callings—callings that are marred and broken by sin, but callings that are not erased or set aside. Because of this forgiveness, we strive to live within these callings in our lives. Stick with us throughout this summer as we explore more deeply what living within our unique callings looks like in various situations and aspects of life.
One final closing reminder is beneficial—a reminder you’ve heard many times before, but a reminder that your sinful nature needs to hear again and again. There’s one more thing that the fall into sin did not change: Adam and Eve’s equal status before God. Their relationship with God certainly changed, as did their newfound need for a Savior. But their equality in God’s sight did not change. Both Adam and Eve remained dearly loved children of God.
As Christian men and women, we too share that equal status before God: adopted sons and daughters, heirs of his promise, a chosen people, a royal priesthood, God’s special possession. Sin prevents us from fully appreciating that status on this side of heaven, but it doesn’t prevent us from giving thanks for the love God continues to show to us; for Jesus’ perfect life, innocent death, and glorious resurrection that once again makes us right with God; and for the Holy Spirit bringing us to faith so that one day we too can enjoy the perfection that Adam and Eve were blessed to experience at the very dawn of time.
For Further Reflection
Meditate on or write about how sin affects the way you live out your unique calling. What struggles do you deal with because of sin? What Scripture references can you turn to for strength and comfort when you are in the midst of these struggles?
Lord God, sin entered the world through one man, but we too suffer the consequences of sin in every aspect of our lives, including in living out our unique callings. Give us confidence when we doubt, strength when we are weak, and forgiveness when we fail. When we are tempted to set aside our unique callings, show us how these callings are still intended to bring blessings, even in the midst of a sin-darkened world. Amen.
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