The Boundaries of Life
The beautiful Garden of Eden used to be the home of mankind. Unfortunately, our ancestors were banished from the Garden of Eden because they betrayed God and ate the forbidden fruit. Since then, sin and death came into this world. Why did God ask our ancestors not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Let’s learn about the boundaries or the guidelines of life from this incident.
‘The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”’ (Genesis 2: 15-17) ‘… “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent 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.’ (Genesis 3: 1b, 4-6)
1. Boundaries express freedom and restrictions
Boundaries are not only restrictions to forbid people from doing wrong things; they also protect things that people own, such as their properties and relationships. Just as marriage brings constraints, it also protects love and relationships, and no infidelity is allowed. The boundaries set by God limit people from abusing their freedom to do dangerous things. This is out of the love of God. We should love and respect ourselves. It is a pity that our ancestors did not cherish the tree of life; instead, they desired the forbidden fruit and in the end suffered from the consequences of their actions.
2. Boundaries show sovereignty and identity
God got the whole world in His hands. He created the world with His sovereignty and words. God is the only legislator and the interpreter of law. When the devil appeared as a serpent and spoke to Eve, Eve actually believes what the serpent said, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” “You will not certainly die,” Eve wanted to be like God and know good and evil; she completely forgot her own identity – she is just one of God’s creations.
3. Boundaries promote faith and order
When Eve doubted the authority and goodwill of God’s command, the relationship between man and God was destroyed. Ever since we were born, we live by faith and learn to discern right from wrong. The order and security of society also depend on the integrity and the law. We need to live a peaceful and orderly life by trusting and following the words of God.
4. Boundaries establish virtue and relationships
The boundaries set by God are not to deprive people of their freedom and interests. Instead, the boundaries can direct people to make good use of freedom, control their desires, develop virtues, and protect relationships. This rule in the Garden of Eden is not just about eating or not eating the forbidden fruit, it also involves choosing “yes or no”, “real or fake”, “life or death”, “good or evil”, “blessing or misfortune”, “abiding or not abiding the law”, “restraining or manifesting your desires ” etc. It is also about the relationship between men and God, including: “trust or doubt God”, “obey or betray God”, “awe or abandon God” and so on.
God created human beings and gave them two great gifts, the power of free will and love. Human’s free will can only be carried out if there is an opportunity to make choices; and the ability to love required the presence of another entity to receive love. When human beings awe and love God, and obey God’s words, they live in God’s love and enjoy true freedom.
(Author’s credentials: Bachelor at Overseas Theological Seminary, Master of Pastoral Counseling at Chinese Mission Seminary, Former minister at Hong Kong Christ Evangelical Church and Hiulai Church)