Count Your Blessings
Have you ever experienced the bad attitude of an ungrateful child?
Anyone reading this who has kids will know exactly what I’m talking about. At some point in the child-rearing process we all encounter moments when our kids completely forget all that we’ve done as parents, and try to declare their independence from us. Full disclosure: My kids are 8, 6, and 2. Yes, I’ve already had small battles where I had to set my kids in place and remind them that they don’t run our house.
My kids hate when I do this. I can list countless bedtime and room cleaning battles where they boldly declared, “We won’t obey you!” I remember one time my daughter was having a fit. She simply refused to go to bed and she was throwing such a tantrum that she was waking up the other two kids. I was at my wits’ end and, in a moment of purely accidental genius, I said, “Fine, you don’t get to go in your bed tonight.” The look on her face was priceless. All of a sudden the very thing she was fighting against, going to bed, was taken out from under her. The battle lines had been redrawn and immediately she began screaming, “I want to go to my bed!”
When we open up the first few pages of our Bibles I think we fail to really appreciate all that God gave to Adam and Eve in the Garden. In the book, The Fury of God, I go into great detail to highlight all the wonderful blessings that Adam had received. One of the most important things we overlook as believers is that, in the Garden, God gave us something we can never repay him for. He gave us our very existence.
We exist, and Adam and Eve existed, simply because, “God said.” Those are two powerful words that brought something out of nothing. Those two words brought existence to the non-existent. We owe all that we have, and all that we are, and all that we see, not to our own efforts, or to our parents, or to the society we were brought up into, but to God alone. He is the Alpha. He is the beginning. The fact that He is the source of all things means that our existence is itself a magnificent gift to us.
Adam and Eve owed their very existence to God. We, too, owe him everything. What is shocking about Genesis 3 is that in spite of all the blessings, including their very existence, Adam and Eve look God square in the face and say, “We’re not going to obey you.”
While we get a mild sense of what this feels like when our kids defy us, we may never truly know the depths of the anger and disappointment that God felt in that moment. He had truly given them everything they could have ever wanted, and they trampled it underfoot for a piece of fruit and a false promise of wisdom from a great deceiver.
The Wages of Sin…Death
Adam and Eve forfeited everything when they bit into the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. At that moment they should have been destroyed. They should not have only lost their place in the Garden of Eden, but they should have lost their very existence. Consider this: Suppose you asked your child to do something and you laid out clear discipline actions if they did not do what you asked. Later, you return to find that they have ignored you. Would you not execute the discipline?
What is interesting about the story of Adam and Eve is that God has done just that. He told them, plainly, that if they ate from that tree that they would surely die. While God never for a second owed them anything, he now rightly owes them death. They ignored his command and, like ungrateful children, they had forgotten all that he had blessed them with. In that moment, they had earned the wages of sin.
The wages of sin is death, ~Romans 6:23
Yet, God does not take their lives.
Some believers may look at how God reacted and think he was too harsh. Not only did he kick them out of the Garden, but he also cursed the ground and increased the woman’s pain in childbirth. I can hear all the teenagers whining, “But that’s not faaaaiiiiirrrrrr!” How many of us parents have promised a punishment to a child, and then we graciously pulled back on the punishment only to hear our children squeal these very words?
The truth of the matter is that in this moment God shows an immense amount of love. He had every right to wipe out human existence in that very moment. Yet he didn’t. Nobody on the face of the earth was obedient to him, and yet he still had grace. I close this chapter in the book with this quote,
It is in moments when we are completely at the mercy of God that the Gospel shines its brightest. In the dark pit of sin, where the fury of God burns white hot, He displays a form of love we know little about…
It’s one thing to look at Adam and Eve and say, “Wow, God should have killed them instantly. What a blessing it is that he spared them.” Here’s where this begins to directly impact our lives. Romans says the “wages of sin is death.” That means when I sin, when you sin, we instantly owe God our lives. Now, understand something—even before we ever sin against God, we already owe him everything. All that we ever have is completely undeserved. Compound that reality infinitely by piling on every sin you’ve ever committed. Every single sin deserving of death. Literally, every moment of our existence is lived by his grace.
Bathing in the Pool of God’s Amazing Grace
Every time we sin, and God doesn’t strike us dead, we become recipients of what theologians call “common grace.” Theologians refer to this grace as “common” because it is common to all men. This grace, though common to all men, is most certainly not “common.” It is most extraordinary! Who can measure the depths of magnitude of the grace of a God who endures the disobedience of so many who openly offend him every moment of every day? Not only this, but a God who continues to pour out life, breath, provision, and blessing on those very creatures? This grace is common to men, but it is truly uncommon in its depth and magnitude.
We have all sinned against God, and yet he graciously continues to let us carry on existing, breathing the breath of his life, walking on his planet, enjoying the warmth of his sun, and the perks of homes, clothing, friends, computers, phones, internet and the like. Before we ever get to the cross of Jesus Christ, we are already bathing in an immense pool of God’s amazing grace.
Discussion Questions for Further Study
- Have you ever thought about the reality that you owe every moment of your existence to God?
- Literally everything we have is undeserved. When was the last time you counted your blessings?
- What are some things in your life that you take for granted?
- Do you think God’s punishment in the Garden was too harsh? Not harsh enough?
Photo by Tim Blair via Flickr