forbidden fruitEve did it. So did Sarah. And Rachel.

Adam fell for it. So did Abraham. And Jacob.

And I’m sure if I continued through Genesis, I’d find more. More of the same control games that still go on in the lives of men and women today.

EVE: Honey, look. Isn’t this beautiful? Could we get some?

ADAM: No.

EVE: Please. It’s perfect. Just look at it.

ADAM: (looking at it)  I…uh…don’t know.

EVE: It’s just the right color, the right shape.

ADAM: (examining it now) It’s all right.

EVE: (sensing a cave-in coming on) Of course, it is. And you could have some, too.

ADAM: (sighing) Well, maybe just one bite.

How many times has this conversation happened in your house over a new outfit, living room set, kitchen renovation, or car? Over a parenting issue, restaurant choice, or furniture placement? We, women are masters of manipulation. Face it, lawyers could take lessons from us. (If you’re both female and a lawyer, I’ll pray for you.)

But at least Eve got one thing right.  She was wise enough to figure out that God had initially made one of her and one of Adam, and that a man was supposed to only have one leading lady in his life. I guess the lesson of jealously between Eve’s first two sons, Cain and Abel, was not lost on her.

Sarah’s another story (Gen 16).

She did what many of us do–she tried to get in God’s head. Bad idea (see “Two Heads are NOT Better than One”). Instead of patiently waiting on God to fulfill his promise to Abraham and give them a son, she thought it was her job to step in and take control—she manipulated her husband into sleeping with her servant, Hagar. And after 10 years of divine inaction, maybe Abraham was doubting too, because the Father of Faith agreed (no sexist commentary, please.)

The soap opera that follows is classic. Hagar gets pregnant. Sarah gets mad. Sarah blames Abraham. Sarah blames Hagar. Hagar runs away.

God brings Hagar back. And Ishmael is born.

When it’s finally time for Sarah to have her own child at 90, she laughs at God. (I probably would, too). But God doesn’t laugh. He made a promise and he kept it.

The story of Rachel and Leah could easily be re-dubbed “All My—er, Our Children” (Gen 30): Two sisters, fighting over the love of one man, Jacob, who should have known better after witnessing the competition between his grandmother and step-grandmother (Sarah and Hagar). The infantile cattiness between Rachel and Leah went on for years as the sisters fought over who could bear the most children. And they didn’t learn anything from their mother-in-law either–Rebekah, who manipulated her husband, Isaac–because they doubled their problems by both cajoling Isaac into bedding their servants. Talk about psychotic sibling rivalry.

Now, I don’t think most of us would present our husband, beau, brother, or dad with a second wife, but we could do something just as stupid if we don’t keep our priorities on straight.

#1 – God is the only one who can truly validate us. Not a parent, spouse, child, boss, or friend.

#2 – Clothes, cars, relationships, jobs, accomplishments, or homes won’t fill us up. They can’t. Only God is enough.

#3 – Stop pushing our own agenda. God’s timing is perfect.

The Bible was given to us for a reason and it wasn’t to take up space on our bookshelf or coffee table. It was to learn from.

Let’s learn, my sisters (and brothers). Let’s learn.

What sinful behaviors from your family have you imitated and repeated? How can you break the cycle?

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