Today I want to explore a little bit about what God gives in Genesis 1 and 2 to Adam and Eve. The first few chapters of Genesis are crucial for theology as we see the foundation for humanity, without the mark of sin. And what is interesting is that God gives Adam and Eve two things: responsibility and limitations. And let me say this, both are gifts.
God gives Adam and Eve responsibility, to be “fruitful and multiply” and steward the earth (Genesis 1:28). We are familiar with this part of the story; that they are given responsibilities and a task. And we understand this for our own lives. That God gives us gifts, abilities, and responsibilities that go along with those gifts. We are called to steward not only the earth, but our responsibilities well – and to increase the flourishing of life around us.
Yet God also does something very interesting. He sets limits. He gives Adam and Eve the garden to tend to, but sets very precise limits about its location and its boundaries (Genesis 2:10). And I think this is really something that we miss. God gives limits because limits are a blessing. We cannot be responsible for everything. We cannot do everything we want to. Responsibility reminds us of our calling to others, and limits reminds us of our need for others.
We cannot accomplish the calling of God upon our lives without both of these things, limits and boundaries, in equal play in our lives. If we live without limits we burn ourselves out, tend to use people, and forget we need others. If we live without responsibility we become a burden to others, self-centered, and destructive. We need to use our responsibility, but acknowledge our limits. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I can’t do more”. God gave limits to Adam and Eve in the garden before there was sin. Limits then are not a result of the fall, but a gift of God to remind us we need each other. I can’t do it all, and neither can you. We need one another.
So I think this is worth thinking about. To reflect on what responsibilities has God given you? And what limitations has he also given you? Who can you lean on when you come to your limits, and how might they help you to see a greater flourishing of life around you?
The point is this, limits aren’t a bad thing, they may be one of the biggest blessings God has given us if we would but acknowledge them.