Unlocking the Eden Code

by Andy Wood on January 9, 2019

in Executing Your Plan, Five LV Laws, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase, Protecting Your Investment

You awake?

That’s what the text read at 11:00 one night last week. My son-in-law, Curtis.

Yes, I replied, and soon the phone was vibrating.

What do your kids or in-laws or whoever call you about at 11:00 pm? This one got interesting very quickly.

“Hey man, I was sharing this with Cassie about this and she said I should call you.”

Cassie also said later I should blog about it. So there. You’re welcome.

“This” was an insight into something that dates all the way back to Eden. It’s been rocking my world ever since. The implications of this idea are poignant and tragic, yet dripping with possibilities. So let’s start with these two passages.

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:7-9, 15-17, ESV).

The Facts

Here are the facts as we know them:

  1. Adam was created after the Lord had planted a garden in Eden, and he was placed in that garden.
  2. Adam entered an environment where every beautiful and edible tree was available.
  3. Two trees are specifically mentioned as being in the garden. Neither the tree of life nor the tree of the knowledge of good and evil bore apples. Just saying.
  4. Adam was placed in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. To tend it and to watch over it. Other words are used to describe his role. He was to be fruitful (think “success” or “fulfilled purpose”). He and Eve were to multiply (think “growth”). And they were to replenish the earth (think “sustainability”).
  5. At any given time Adam could have eaten from any tree in the garden. That includes the two trees mentioned specifically there in the middle. But as we know, the Lord explicitly said not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
  6. Here is Curtis’s insight. The fact that Adam was forbidden to eat the fruit of that tree didn’t change the fact that it was his job to take care of it.

I should probably say that again. The same Adam who was forbidden to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil still had to care of the tree.

Digging Deeper into the Implications

We know how the story ended. The serpent deceived Eve and she ate from the forbidden tree. She gave to Adam and he did the same thing. Their eyes were opened, they felt shame, and they tried to hide from God. They made excuses for their disobedience, and the Lord drove them out of the garden with its tree of life.

But take a look at what could have happened…

Fascinated, but Unchanged

Every day Adam tended to the tree of life. He cultivated it, watched over it, fertilized it. But despite Eden’s version of flashing neon lights, Adam never ate from the tree of life. It was in his face every single day. He could have eaten from it. He didn’t. This reminds me of those people who explore the “tree of life,” but never actually taste of it themselves. They study it. They even make it available to others. They’re religious, but lost. Fascinated, but never transformed. Surrounded by life, yet clutched in the jaws of death.

Found, but Unconcerned

Adam could have so neglected the tree of life that it withered up and died. After all, he had the authority to subdue the earth. In theory, he could have eaten fruit from the tree of life, then decided to kill the tree and keep life to himself. Like Christ followers today who have found the life we so desperately need, but keep it to ourselves. That reminds me of that old hymn sung by the Particular Baptists back in the day:

We are the Lord’s elected few,
Let all the rest be damned;
There’s room enough in hell for you,
We won’t have heaven crammed.

Yes, that’s a real song and yes, they sang it.

Safe, but Unrealized

What if Adam, to play it safe, decided that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was too much of a temptation? What if he chose to take an axe to the root of the tree and kill the thing? To avoid the temptation, he would have denied his very purpose for being there in the first place. This reminds me of classic religious legalists. They’ll avoid those pesky temptations, even if it means missing the whole point of why they’re there. They reduce the mission simply to not behaving badly. So they behave. But is that all there is?

Our Primal Task

There is in this story a sense of calling and purpose. If you and I can understand the nature of that calling, we can find all sorts of treasure. You can find the secret to character development and leadership there in Eden. You can also find the most fundamental definition of success.

What was the First Man (and everyone since) tasked to do? How was he judged a failure or a success? Simple. Our Primal Task is to care for something that doesn’t belong to us without using it for our selfish advantage. Then we are to account for it as we present it back to the Owner in a way that is fruitful, multiplied, and sustainable.

The word for that, stodgy as it may sound, is stewardship.

What if you looked at your work through that lens? What if you recognized that the organization or job doesn’t belong to you? It’s a trust, and your role is to fulfill your job description without using that job for selfish motives.

I know many pastors who have a responsibility to care for the men, women, and children in their churches. And despite the moral temptations, they wouldn’t dare abuse that trust. This is character. This is something God sees and uses.

I know many Christians in business who handle company money every day. But despite the temptation to line their pockets with someone else’s cash, they don’t. These executives, professionals, or employees remain faithful to the trust. They care for something that doesn’t belong to them, and they don’t steal from the boss.

The possibilities are endless. What do you do with possessions, relationships, or roles that don’t belong to you? How do you honor the trust?

Start with your family relationships. Those are God’s children, entrusted to you. Your spouse is a gift from God, and you will answer to Him for what you did with that relationship. Did your family relationships fulfill their purpose? Are they sustainable?

Your work is not yours – it belongs to the Lord. So does “your” money, “your” physical energy, “your” relationships. Add to that “your” abilities and “your” public favor. They all belong to God. But they’re entrusted to you to help them flourish.

How about your leadership or areas of influence? In the same way, none of the people or processes we have been given ultimately belong to us. We are to serve the organization and its people for their benefit, not use them for ours. Primal Leadership calls you to influence people for Owner’s sake. Our job is to fulfill the organization’s purpose, multiply it, and make it sustainable.

Your destiny, your “well done,” your accountability, and the pathway to your growth. All that is found in a genetic code that goes all the way back to Eden and hasn’t changed.

Adam blew it. So have I, repeatedly. But the message of the gospel is that today we can return to Eden and the trust. We can steward the gifts we’ve been given today, regardless of past failures.

So take the dare. Get out of ownership and back into management.

Be fruitful. Multiply. Replenish and sustain the earth.

But keep your hands off the forbidden fruit.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha Orlando January 9, 2019 at 2:51 pm

Absolutely brilliant analogy here, Andy! I will never look at the Eden story in the same way again. Yes, we are called to be God’s stewards and sustainers, for we belong to Him, as does all of creation.
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..Lean on Me

Robin Wood January 9, 2019 at 10:45 pm

Great article. I think we know ALOT of people who need this.

Robin Wood January 9, 2019 at 10:45 pm

Great job babe. I think we both know many who thus can help.
Robin Wood´s last blog post ..Unlocking the Eden Code

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