Updated: Feb 24
When God established the spirit realm, He filled it with spiritual beings tasked with watching over His creation. When He created the natural realm, He filled it with an amazing array of natural things—heavenly bodies and earthly beings and things that can be seen or heard or touched. But his crowning creation was distinctive: man.
Created on the same day as other earth-dwellers, man was formed from the dust of the earth and made alive by the breath of God. He was placed in the midst of the natural world and tasked with stewarding it in a supernatural way. In humans, heaven met earth.
Man’s highest calling was not to plant and hoe but to reveal the Creator to His creation. Along with the rest of creation, he was an extraordinary expression of God’s limitless creativity and made alive by God’s Spirit, he could demonstrate God’s nature through his own.
Think beyond those things God fully formed—like animals and plants, mountains and streams— to the raw materials He put in man’s hands to steward for the sake of the earth. Natural resources, science and technology, music and art, and a host of other things that hold potential but need man’s hand. Guided by God’s wisdom, they are designed to enrich the world.
According to the writers of the Psalms and Proverbs, the accumulation of wisdom begins in the fear of the Lord (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10). The fear of the Lord is knowing that God knows what’s good for us when we don’t, and when we don’t, we know who to ask. Wisdom is profound esteem for the good Guardian of your life. Genuine fear of the Lord doesn’t incite terror but awe. With wisdom, we use the power the Creator has given not only to sustain and govern but to create.
One day as Adam and Eve were walking in the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil caught Eve’s eye. I doubt she said, “Hmm... I think today I will disobey God’s command.” I think it was more like, “Oh, that tree is beautiful. I think I’ll take a closer look.” That day, the crafty serpent was waiting. He got Eve’s attention and questioned her: what had God said about that tree? She couldn’t remember exactly. Adam didn’t’ seem to remember either, or else he wasn’t saying anything. Their reasoning might have gone something like this: “If it’s so harmful, why would God place it within our reach? It can’t hurt to try it, right?” So Eve took some, handed some to Adam, and together they ate.
The rest is history. Here we are, outside the garden, overflowing with knowledge but short on wisdom. Still made in the image of God, still creative, equipped with all we need to make beautiful things, but lacking the discernment of what’s good and bad.
Now, what would have happened had Eve had, right then, consulted with the Creator? Asked Him to remind her what He’d said. Or if Adam had interjected, “Hold on, Eve. I seem to remember God saying something about this. Let’s check with Him.”
Consider this: God didn’t create Adam and Eve with all the wisdom they would ever need. Not even Jesus, the perfect man, wasn’t born with the full measure of the wisdom of God. The Scriptures tell us, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). With experience, he got wiser. Among other things, he learned the value of time spent with teachers in the temple and that you don’t go off somewhere without telling your mother.
Learning and growing in wisdom is a holy thing. It’s a part of our worship; it reveals our fear of God. When we seek discernment from God in all we do, we are on the road to wisdom.
Back to the garden.
God’s instruction to Adam and Eve to rule the earth and subdue it and the presence of a crafty serpent there make it clear the garden of Eden was not uncontested territory. It took some tending. So wouldn’t knowing the difference between good and evil be helpful? Why would God withhold?
Could it be that His “no” was a “not yet”?
Knowledge, in itself, is neither good nor bad. It’s this that determines its nature: How will you obtain it? Will you take it or wait for God to gift it? Once you have it, what will you do with it? Whose wisdom will you trust: wisdom gained by your own hand or that granted by God when you’re ready? Can you stay close to Him, allowing Him to define your good and bad, or will you take the responsibility of defining it yourself? Failure to obey what they knew and failure to trust God with what they didn’t demonstrated that Adam and Eve weren’t ready for the tree of knowledge.
God’s creativity emanates life and has the potential to reproduce in us, but outside of His wisdom, our creativity leads to death. Music and art that glorify evil. Natural resources wasted rather than conserved. Education rooted in humanism rather than springing from fear of the Lord. Science pursued in denial of God rather than for greater revelation of his creative design. Like Adam and Eve, we don’t purposely walk toward evil, we just walk away from wisdom. Creativity becomes a snare.
There is a way back.
“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2–3, NIV).
More on that later.