Hey, Calvary Fremont –
To be honest, he was a bit nervous. It was the first time he would slither up to a complete stranger and try to throw her off her game. He had never spoken to a human before and as he got closer to her, he rehearsed his opening lines. Moments later, he was elated! He couldn’t believe it. He was blown away that it only took three sentences to derail her life, overturn her husband’s life – and truth be told, ruin the entire human race.
How did the serpent in the garden so quickly turn Eve against God? Why would Eve so swiftly disobey God? It was easy – he made her feel discontent with her lot in life. There was only one thing that God withheld from Adam and Eve. There was only one thing that they were not to do – they were not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That’s it – only one thing. The entire harvest of the Garden of Eden was theirs to enjoy – except the fruit of this one tree. Every aisle in the grocery store, every item in the refrigerated section, every fruit and vegetable in the produce bins, all the baked goods were available to them. There was just one prohibition – don’t eat the fruitcake, for in the day that they ate of it, they would die. That’s it – just one prohibition! And this is where Satan slandered God to Eve. (The enemy assaults us at the point of prohibition, not at the points of permission.)
Satan told Eve that God was holding out on her. He told her that if she ate the fruit, she would become like God, knowing good from evil. “God is holding out on you, Eve. He is keeping you from something that will be so good for you. He doesn’t want you to partake of it because if you do, you won’t need Him anymore – you’ll be like Him. God doesn’t want you to taste that sweet liberty.” Satan intimated that God is not a good God, but a petty, stingy God holding her down from what rightfully belonged to her. “This is your right! You deserve this! Rise up and throw off His bondage!”
This lie created discontent within Eve’s heart. “God is holding out on me,” she thought. Satan created FOMO within her heart – Fear of Missing Out. Anxiety and resentment consumed her. The seed of his lie sowed discontent which gave birth to fear which shriveled into unbelief and then expressed itself in disobedience which resulted in death. “Not bad for a morning’s work,” the serpent said to himself as he slunk away.
This tool of Satan, though used for thousands of years on billions of people, has never lost its sharp edge. It hasn’t grown dull with time and usage. Don’t look down on Eve and think of her as a weak woman, an easy mark. It took him three sentences to bring down Eve – for many of us, it only takes him one sentence to create the discontent which can lead to resentment, fear, unbelief, and disobedience. Satan knows how to slither up to you and poison you with one sentence.
The pastor down the street has a bigger church than you.
She’s prettier than you.
He’s smarter than you.
Why can’t your husband be as attentive to you as that husband is to his wife?
Why can’t your wife be as respectful toward you as that wife is to her husband?
Why is God keeping you from that promotion?
Why did God allow that debt, death, divorce, depression, etc.?
Blah. Blah. Blah.
It’s just not the comparison that creates the discontent, it’s the notion that God could have directed my life down a different path which would have resulted in a different outcome – why didn’t He? It’s just not the comparison with someone else – it’s the notion that God is holding out on me. And when this is coupled with a sense of entitlement – that I deserve better – you have a recipe for a poisonous discontent that will infect any heart.
I’ll turn 70 next month. And whenever I think of that, I can’t but help reflect upon my life and the path I’ve trod. I thought that by this time in my life I would pastor a church of thousands – I really did. And I don’t think I thought this because of pride and ego – this thought, this expectation was driven by a specific theology that said, “That’s just what the Lord does.” I’ve had to adjust my theology! I pastor a church of about 250 – including children. (We count kids because kids count!) In previous decades I was so discontent with the size of the church I pastored – how often my soul was agitated. Today, I can say, “My heritage is sweet to me. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.” I pastor an awesome church – beautiful people!
I am going to disagree with C.S. Lewis, Augustine, Aquinas, and the major theologians of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant traditions! I don’t think that the original sin was pride – I believe it was a discontent that expressed itself in unbelief that resulted in disobedience. It wasn’t a swelling pride that drove Eve, it wasn’t because she had an excessively high opinion of herself – it was because she thought so little of God; it was a poisonous discontent. She said, “I want what God has forbidden me. God is holding out on me.” Her discontent drove her to consume that which resulted in greater discontent.
Contentment isn’t the result of passively accepting whatever comes into your life. Contentment is the fruit of actively surrendering to God in the hustle and bustle, in the twists and turns, in the brokenness and disappointments of life. Contentment comes as you trust in the Lord with all your heart, not leaning on your own understanding, acknowledging Him in all your ways, believing that He is making your paths straight. The devil is seeking to breed discontent in your heart. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Be blessed and stay healthy and follow Jesus – Pastor Tim