Wednesday, October 20, 2021

But.. It Was Only An Apple!

Dear Friends,

We’re approaching one of my favorite seasons of the year. There’s a cool crispness in the morning air. Trees in my neighbor’s yard are starting to turn orange and red. It’s nearing the time for our annual Fall journey to Oak Glen – apple country! I love apples and one of my best memories from elementary school are the “Red Delicious” apples. Every afternoon someone brought to each classroom a box of deep-red, chilled apples. My friends craved Hostess Twinkies and I craved apples.  My friends thirsted for soda pop; I loved ice-cold apple juice. From the sweetness of the Fuji and the Gala to the tartness of the Pink Lady and the Granny Smith, I’ve never bit into an apple I didn’t like. 

If you offer me the choice of a candy bar or an apple, I’ll take the apple every time. My point is this... I know why Eve did it. But put yourself in Eve’s place. Would you have yielded to that same temptation in the Garden? “Of course not!” we emphatically state. “No way!” “Not me!”  Really? Are you sure about that?

How can we be so certain, when we so readily yield to the temptation of that second bowl of tortilla chips at the restaurant, or the Starbucks Venti Café Vanilla Frappuccino with whipped cream that’s 610 calories and 91 grams of sugar. (That’s a sugar bomb of 23 teaspoons of sugar!)

How can we passionately state “No way would I yield to Eve’s temptation” as we too quickly finish that bottle of wine or double the dosage of the little pill that relaxes us and brings freedom from the day’s worries? How can we so easily say “Not me!” when we quickly yield to the temptation to repeat that delicious bit of gossip to our church friends or fire off that angry email?

Now of course we know something that Adam and Eve didn’t. We’ve read the Book and we know that the consequence of yielding to that tempting apple* was the fall of mankind. They didn’t know that, but they both knew what God had said about the forbidden fruit. Both Adam and Eve knew that eating the fruit off the tree was being disobedient to God. But let’s give Eve a break here! This was not a major sin! It was just a little snack! It was only an apple...

You and I might wish that we didn’t give in so easily and quickly to harmful temptations, and I don’t know about you, but if that had been a chilled Red Delicious apple, I’ll admit I might have pushed Eve out of the way and snatched the apple off the tree for myself. After was only an apple.

What are your “apples”– your temptations? Worrying or being anxious? Procrastinating or putting things off? Eating too much or eating foods that are not healthy for you? Spending too much time on the internet or watching television? Spending more money than you can afford or obsessively shopping for things you don’t need? Being lazy or not working as hard as you should? Gossiping or saying unkind things about others? Being jealous or envious of others? Lying or cheating? Letting grudges escalate into bitterness and unforgiveness? Expressing anger or going “off” on someone? Drinking too much or misusing prescription medication? Depending on your branch of Christianity, these may be described as “minor sins,” “venial sins,” or in some of the more progressive churches, not sins at all.

Why worry about those seemingly insignificant sins in our life? Because, as it was with the first family, there will always be consequences when we yield to even the most minor sin. We worry about the dangers from our environment and from other people. We are obsessed over the Coronavirus. A recent poll showed that 63% of adults of all ages are “constantly concerned” about their health. But it’s yielding to temptations that manifest in destructive behaviors and habits that are the most dangerous to us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

We too easily blame God for our temptations but He tempts no one to sin. The source of temptation lies within. James 1:13-15 The place in which all temptation originates is our own thoughts and desires. We make the decision to yield to the enticement and when the Holy Spirit convicts us of our indiscretion, that’s when the Enemy whispers to us and says: “Hey don’t worry about it – it’s only an apple.”

God has given you an awesome destiny for your life and then we allow the temptations of our flesh to distract from that destiny. We know we shouldn’t yield to those temptations but we snivel, “I just can’t help myself..” 

Yes you can! God said, “I have set before you life and death.. therefore choose life..” Deut 30:19 When we are faced with temptations to engage in even the smallest sin, God gives us a choice. And in the "Cloud of Unknowing" a 14th century monk wrote: “On the path of purity and spiritual growth, you can't afford a reckless attitude toward even the smallest sin.” Whenever we’re faced with temptation, we have a decision to make. Let’s learn from Adam and Eve, be obedient to God and “choose life..”  Amen?

* Genesis 3:2-3 describes this only as a “fruit.” Christian tradition calls it an apple.

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