God is generous, and generosity is both His idea and part of “CREATION EXISTS FOR US. HE GAVE IT TO HUMANKIND TO STEWARD AND ENJOY.” His nature. You can see His generosity towards His creation even when you mess it up, sin, and misuse your relationship with Him.
FIRST EXAMPLE OF GOD’S GENEROSITY
The Substitution Principle
Let’s look back to what happened in the Garden of Eden after
Adam and Eve sinned …
Think about it:
- Adam and Eve had a complete, pure and undisturbed relationship with their Creator, signified by their walking together with God in the Garden (Gen 3:8),
- Adam was given one job, to tend God’s creation (Gen 2:15) – the Garden,
- Adam was given one rule: Don’t eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Gen 2:16-17)
Sounds perfect, right? They had no shame, no disappointments, and all their needs were met. Their need to feel acceptance was met by being uniquely created (“formed”) by God. (Gen 2:7) Their need for significance was met as they were created in His image. (Gen 1-26-27) Their need to be secure was met through God’s provision of the Garden and His endless love. (Gen 22:44; John 3:16; Psa 78:102) The deepest needs of humankind were met by God and by God alone. Even when Adam had a need, one unknown by him, God met it.
But then it happened ... man was disobedient against God and suffered the consequences of that action. (Gen 3: 1-7a)
This single action impacts us even to this day. For the first time, humankind had a real rupture in that pure, undisturbed relationship with God. Adam and Eve immediately felt the impact of this disharmony at the moment of their rebellious act: they felt shame (Gen 3:7) and, as a result, they hid from God. (Gen 3:8-10 Gen 3:8-10) Confronted, they quickly shifted responsibility for their disobedient action (Gen 3:12-13) – Adam to Eve, Eve to the serpent. The serpent even pushed blame onto God! In their shame, they tried to cover themselves – their sin – as signified by donning the leaves. (Gen 3:15)
Sound familiar? I know it does for me. I tried to hide from the consequences of my sin, cast blame elsewhere, and develop an elaborate cover-up. As if the God of the universe can’t see through my self-justification… God saw through Adam’s, as well.
The Bible says God went looking for them. (Gen 3:9) This wasn’t because God lost them, rather, it was because God felt the disharmony a ‒ the breach ‒ in the pure relationship they had jointly experienced up to the point of their disobedience. Now, they were no longer walking together. Due to the broken relationship, the fulfillment of mankind’s deepest needs for significance, acceptance, and security were no longer being sought through a relationship with God. Imagine how this broke God’s heart. He created this man and this woman specifically to love and to be loved by Him. He wanted to give us so much yet, because of this one act, we – man and God – experienced disharmony with one another.
I can’t comprehend how it must have felt for God, but oh, how this must have broken God’s heart! I can remember the brokenness I felt as an earthly father when my sons made willful, frustrating decisions that strained our relationship!
God, being rich in mercy and full of love (Eph 2:4-5) for His children, wanted to restore that pure relationship. He began by providing a more permanent covering for Adam and Eve, but it wasn’t cheap. It took the sacrifice of an animal to make clothes for them (Gen 3:21), as the cover for their shame and as payment for their sin. What man could not do for himself, God would provide.
Let’s look at this payment thing a bit. Imagine the scene. Here’s this little lamb (though the Bible doesn’t specify, I imagine a lamb ‒ to be consistent with the imagery we find throughout the rest of scripture). Imagine this lamb peacefully grazing on a grassy meadow within the garden. It’s a pleasant day, no predators with which to be concerned. Heck, there hasn’t ever been a bad day in the Garden of Eden until this point! Then out of nowhere, a lightning bolt! The Power of God — the Voice of God ... ZAP… turns this peaceful lamb into two pairs of pants and shirts. Wow! Really?! What did the lamb do to deserve this? It was Adam and Eve who broke the one rule. (Gen 3:1-7) It was Adam and Eve who hid and played the blame game in their feeble attempt at covering up their sin. (Gen 3:1-13) Who got the bad end of this deal? That poor little lamb, that’s who!
It was the lamb:
- who paid the price of someone else’s sin with its life!
- who took on the wrath of God in these two sinner’s places.
– and foreshadowed the One:
- who would become the substitute-payer for the sin of mankind.
- who would take on the wrath of God in mankind’s sinful place.
Remember, God had given Adam only one rule. He had told Adam that if he ate from that tree he would surely die. (Gen 2:16-17) But instead of immediately taking Adam and Eve’s lives in payment for their sin, He gave them a substitute for this payment (at least for the time being) so they could bear their shame in the form of clothing to cover their nakedness. Then, he did even more. He made them a promise while talking to the evil one who had led them to their sin: “(her offspring) will crush your head.” (Gen 3:15) It is the final victory over evil that we see in the Son of God’s death and resurrection ‒ the final resolution for the sin of humankind when Jesus dies as the payment proffered for humankind’s sin ‒ a salvation from that sin that is offered to all humankind ‒ for this original sin and for all of their subsequent sin. He did that so the pure undisturbed fellowship could be restored between God and those who rely on Jesus’ sacrifice for their salvation from sin.
About Michael Stickler
Mike is an author, radio host, and a highly sought-after motivational speaker. His best-selling book, A Journey to Generosity, is widely acclaimed throughout the Christian community. He is the publisher of Generous Living Magazine and writes for the Christian Post, 'A Generous Life' column.