The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15, ESV)
God placed man in the garden with two responsibilities: “to work it and keep it.” Our responsibility to work is important. These days it seems that we talk more about not working. Have we forgotten that we were created to work? This work isn’t about earning our salvation—I’m talking about expressing our faith through actions. Adam and Eve’s expression of faith in God was their obedience in working or cultivating the garden.
Bringing this to the present, Paul encourages us to cultivate our relationship with God:
Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in him—in simple faith. Grow out of him as a plant grows out of the soil it is planted in, becoming more and more sure of the faith as you were taught it, and your lives will overflow with joy and thankfulness.(Colossians 2:6-7, PHILLIPS)
Not only were Adam and Eve charged with cultivating the garden, but the Lord also asked them to “keep it” or guard it. As followers of Jesus, we are instructed to guard our faith. As Paul counsels Timothy,
Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.(2 Timothy 1:13-14, ESV)
Now, how do you cultivate and guard your relationships? You may be thinking, What? How did you move from the garden, to my walk with Jesus, and then to my relationships? Genesis conveys that humans were placed in the garden to cultivate and guard it. As long as Adam and Eve followed God’s instructions in the garden, they were in right relationship with him. And as a result, they were in right relationship with each other. These things apply to us because we are “sons of Adam and daughters of Eve,” as CS Lewis called us.
How does God intend for us to cultivate our “gardens”? Clearly, to God, the most important aspect of our lives is our relationships. Jesus’ two primary commands were to love God and love others. We are to cultivate and guard our relationship with God and with others. God wouldn’t say, “Cultivate and keep the relationship with me, but as far as everyone else goes, that’s not important.” Express your faith by making all your relationships a priority in your life.
Lord, your ways are better than mine. I want to follow your ways. Help me to faithfully cultivate and keep my relationships with you and with others…. (Continue praying.)