One of our daughters is highly creative and one is highly generous. That means at any given time, the creative one is coming up with elaborate plans to trade rocks and sticks to the generous one for candy or toys. Thus lies the central issue at the great “Silly Bandz crisis of 2010.”
Though I swear we have given them both the same number of Silly Bandz, somehow, like a tiny, adorable Napoleon, my 6 year old has acquired most of my 4 year old’s Silly Bandz. She walks around with them all on one arm like some sort of child sized Slick Rick covered in rapper jewelry.
We’ve talked to our youngest about the outrageous trades she often agrees to, but she just can’t seem to understand how it works. You shouldn’t ever trade a lot for a very little. Ten Silly Bandz for the right to enter her sister’s room is a whack trade. Unfortunately though, my daughter is not the only one who makes wildly one-sided trades like this.
I was reminded of this recently while reading through Genesis. I’m trying to read through the Bible for a second time and I’m in the section about Joseph. Something really fascinating happens in chapter 39 when Joseph is confronted by Potiphar’s wife. (Side note, Potiphar’s wife was probably history’s first cougar. Lot of theologians won’t tell you that.)
The story is pretty simple, Joseph is in charge of running Potiphar’s entire house. And he’s all P90X’d and good looking. So Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce him. How did Joseph respond? Having been sold into slavery, he could have caved and blamed his difficult childhood on his busted adulthood. But he didn’t. In 39:8-9 here is what he says:
“With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”
Do you see what he did? He said, “I’ve got almost everything, why would I trade all of that for the one thing I don’t have? Why would I trade this big thing for that small thing?” If that sounds familiar, it should, Adam & Eve faced the same type of temptation in the Garden of Eden.
They had everything. They had it all. Adam was the Joseph of God’s house. He was in charge of naming all the animals. That is a wildly amazing honor. Do you know how badly scientists desire to discover a new species and name it after themselves? Naming something is a high honor and that was Adam’s. The Garden was theirs to live in and love. But then Satan came into the picture.
And he did something to Adam and Eve that I promise he does to you.
Everyday the enemy tries to offer you an apple, when God has already given us an orchard.
Adam and Eve had the whole garden and traded it for a single apple. Joseph had the entire household of Potiphar and was offered his wife. You’ve got the glory of God inside you and get tempted to trade it for something small and dull each day.
Trading the beauty of God’s intended gift of sex for pornography is an orchard for an apple trade.
Trading the peace of honesty for the quick fix of a lie is an orchard for an apple trade.
Trading the friendship of a neighbor for the short term hit of gossiping is an orchard for an apple trade.
Each day we are faced with dozens of orchard for apple trades. We have something so big and true and wild in us, and we give it away for a handful of temporary coins.
But Joseph didn’t and we can refuse the trade to. We can look at how small and shriveled and worm infested the apple of temptation is. And then we can remember how bright and expansive the orchard of God’s heart is. There are acres of apples waiting for us. Miles of rows of opportunities to be at peace and serve and surrender and repent to a God who gives and gives and gives.