Genesis 3:1–6 

‘When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her,  and he ate it.’(v6) 

Self-determination is critical to psychological wellbeing and personal growth.* Human development requires that we must feel in control of our behaviour, free will. Eve takes control of her environment and approves the fruit which she takes and eats, taking direct action for herself. This process teaches us how to master tasks and exercise our independence from others. So a child grows in confidence and learns skills necessary to leave home and live independently.

In achieving her goal, tasting the fruit that looked good to eat, Eve learned and demonstrated confidence and independence. However, whilst action may be independently initiated, we always want to experience participation with others, a sense of community, and so Adam joins her in the experience and they enjoy a sense of belonging together through shared experience. The unrecognised problem for Eve and Adam is that they breach a foundational instruction given by God; foundational since it is part of the Creator’s instructions.

In exercising free will we must still work within certain parameters established to enable us to realise our fullest potential. Only God knows what our potential is, and it can only be realised by applying the lessons for growth set out by God in Scripture.  In this instance we know that whilst the process of self-determination is necessary, it was exercised in disobedience to God’s instructions and therefore triggered consequences that lay beyond Eve’s understanding.  We learn that self-determination carries an intrinsic responsibility within it, whose consequences can be both good and bad.  

SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: 1 Sam. 10:8–27, 13:4–15; Acts 5:1–11; Luke 6:46–49. 

AN ACTION TO TAKE: Self-determination is essential for growth, but we will not grow if we step outside of God’s principles that alone ensure fullness of life (John 10:10).

A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, I want to keep Your commandments. May I walk closely with the Holy Spirit, and be led into all Your truth. Amen.’ (John 14:15–17)

Photo by Joe on flickr
Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.