Now the snake was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the snake, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the snake said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
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.
This is the story of the ultimate consumer. It reminds me of every shopping trip I wish I hadn’t made.
Relocate to the mall. You have wandered into a hardware store where a salesman is doing a promotional demonstration of a kitchen gadget you never knew you wanted – until now! Somewhere underneath it all, you have left behind the frank reality that a kitchen knife, a wooden spoon, or a vegetable peeler will supply everything you need for the job in hand. The salesman convinces you that what you already have can’t really be good enough – look: this is so much better!
Think of the time you will save. Think how much more economically you can use every scrap of fruit/vegetable/flour/whatever-it-is if you use this gadget to prepare it. Think how neat and pleasing it is – much more elegant than your tatty old implements tossing around in the drawer. And so much easier to clean! Why, it would be irresponsible, wasteful, and slovenly to try to keep house without it.
You call your husband over to have a look. You put it into his mind that, if only you had this, you’d probably have time to make apple dumplings again. And plum pie. With cream. And maybe ice cream as well. If he doesn’t think you’re being a bit extravagant, of course…
Six months later it’s another useless lump of rusty dusty junk in the landfill site, and there you are back with your kitchen knife, your wooden spoon, and your vegetable peeler.
Wise and loving God, you know what is good for us better than we know ourselves. You know how easily we are taken in, how readily we are tempted and persuaded. Please help us to put in place in our lives the firebreaks that will protect us from the consequences of temptation. May we learn to know ourselves and our vulnerabilities so well that we know when to walk away, take a breather, give ourselves twenty-four hours to think things over. And as we go about this world where the serpents, craftier than any other wild animals, are just waiting for suckers like us to come walking by, please travel with us, please remind and recall us – for you, God of love, know us better than we know ourselves. In Jesus’ holy name; Amen.