Genesis 4:7 – What is right?
Recently I volunteered in an accommodation office and had to calculate the bill of an individual checking out earlier than planned. The arithmetic seemed simple. All I had to do was apply the daily rate to the number of nights stayed as well as remove the discount that would have applied if the individual stayed the full duration. I mumbled to myself as I worked out the total in my head and then stated a number. When I made eye contact with the client I noted a look of skepticism on their face and knew they did not believe me. I knew I was not going to convince them that my figure was correct unless I performed the dreaded act our mathematics teachers demanded of us every time we took a test; I needed to show my work.
We know scripture does not share everything said between God, Adam and Eve in the garden, but we can read the conversation that occurred when God asked Adam and Eve about their choice to eat the forbidden fruit. Their teacher (God) had taught them about choices. There were probably many days in the garden when they could have taken the fruit but knew the answer was no. However, when Satan confronted them and presented their choice in a problem format, they failed the test. It didn’t matter that Eve’s initial response suggested she knew the answer to be no. Both Adam and Eve proved they truly did not understand that the lesson was about obedience, not about fruit. When challenged by God for an answer about their choice, they could not show their work. They knew the answer was no but, with flawed thinking, tried to explain how they reached their decision.
I don’t profess any mathematical prowess that allowed me to boast my initial answer should not be challenged. To ensure the clients were comfortable that I was not just going through the motions of providing a figure, I had to prove what I was sharing was correct. I wrote out my calculations and showed the individual how I came up with a figure. When I slowed down and wrote out the calculation and explained why I used the figures I did, I proved I understood the problem as well as the mathematics necessary to find a solution. It didn’t matter that my calculation resulted in the same figure I presented from the top of my head or that I had never given the individual any reason to distrust me before that encounter. I had to show my work; I had to show that I knew that I understood what I was doing.
We can’t make the right choices if we don’t understand why a choice might be wrong. Our relationship with the Holy Spirit, our study of scripture, and our prayers and worship practices are the work we must do to make good choices. They are especially valuable when we are tempted to do something that we know the answer is NO. If we allow Him, the Holy Spirit will nudge us to reflect on our choice. We will realize that what we are about to do would be offensive to God, to another person, or to ourselves. The Holy Spirit need not bring the Book of Leviticus to our minds, but He will certainly remind us that we know what the right choice should be.
A disciple seeks to learn what the master teaches and applies it to their daily lives, this way they show the work of their learning. So, when they face life issues they will be able to choose the path and show they understand why and what they were taught. God was not trying to trick Adam and Eve by presenting them with a choice they could not make correctly. Satan turned a simple choice into a complicated one. If we never seek to understand what God teaches, we will continually struggle with choices.