Almost all of us have had a friend or loved one headed down the wrong path. It can be a hard thing to watch, especially if we tried to step in and help that person see the destination. But what if we didn’t? What if we saw where they were going and stood by silently, letting them go down that road to their own misery? There may be a multitude of reasons for our choice. One might be that we’ve tried to stop them before. But they didn’t listen then and we know they won’t listen now. If that’s the case, that’s understandable. There’s nothing more that we can do except go before the Lord in prayer. But what if we didn’t speak up because we were afraid? Or, even worse, we wanted to see if they would get away with it before we tried it, too? Neither of those are good reasons. Being afraid, we’ve all been there. We wonder if it will mean the end of our relationship if we say something. Or we know that the other person won’t react well and we’d rather avoid the confrontation. These aren’t good reasons. But how about that last reason? The one where we’re treating that other person like a guinea pig? Is that what we should be doing? Of course not. However, it’s something we see all the time. Even among people who say they love each other. Remember these words?
The man said, “This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
– Genesis 2:23, NASB
Yet the man who uttered these words about his bride also betrayed her in the manner I’ve mentioned:
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. – Genesis 3:6, NASB
That “with her” is important. Adam could have stopped the conversation. He could have prevented his wife from eating the fruit they were told not to eat. However, he was likely as tempted to believe the serpent’s promise as she was. After all, this is what the serpent claimed:
“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:5, NASB
Being like God was a strong temptation. So Adam basically said, “Ladies first!” and let his wife try the fruit first. In other words, he put his life before hers. Stop and think about that for a second. He was willing to let her die to find out if what the serpent said was true. We often don’t teach this passage that way. But that’s the reality of Adam’s actions. Perhaps we’ve been influenced by Milton and his work, Paradise Lost. There Adam was choosing between his duty before God and his love for his wife. And had the words “with her” (or “who was with her” in some other translations) not been present in the text, we could say that’s the decision he faced. But the fact of the matter is that Adam was there. He could have stopped it. But he didn’t. Instead, he willing put his wife up for sacrifice for himself. That’s the opposite of how God wanted it. And that’s the opposite of how He did it. He put His life up for ours.
The root issue here is self-centeredness. Adam was being self-centered. He put himself first. This is an issue most of us struggle with. We may know that we are to put others first, but our flesh tells us to look out for ourselves first. The world around us reinforces our self-centered view. We’re told to take care of ourselves first. After all, no one else is going to. It’s so easy to believe this lie. We know it to be a lie because God has promised us He will take care of what’s really important. He will handle everything so it works out for our good (Romans 8:28). And in turn He asks us to put others first. He has basically told us, “Take care of those around you first. I’ll take care of you.” In other words, He has asked us not to repeat Adam’s example. Rather, He would have us follow His own. He’s asking us to examine the relationships in our lives. Are we putting the other person first? Or are we using the relationship to our own advantage? He wants us to take care of each other, not take advantage of one another.