By Pastor Brian Kelly
Once breath had been breathed into the clay of man (Gen. 2.7), he became—by that union of clay and breath—a soul, the Hebrew nephash.
God then settled man in the Garden (Gen. 2.15) To work it and to keep it—for the Good of the soul. That is, man was not Necessary for the Garden’s well-being (God could see to that), but the other way around.
The Garden was something Adam could give his hands to. To do work on the Behalf of, the Heb. abad. To till and dress. Serve.
And something for him To keep—the Heb. shamar, literally a corral of thorn bushes a shepherd would construct when out in the Wild to keep his flock safe at night. And means To watch over, To protect, To hold—to the breast, and in the heart—dear.
What the Garden answered was man’s Inherent Need. That need to Do—do for An other. And the need to Give—give of the heart. The Need to love.
Love acts. It is the Giving of one’s self—abad And shamar together, the giving of one’s self wholly.
The Selflessness of the Hebrew shepherd exemplifies this beautifully. It was to the care and comfort and protection of the flock that the shepherd gave himself fully—hands And heart, every One of his sheep being dear to him. And so, it was his voice the flock knew, his voice only would the flock follow, and his voice that would quiet them…Calm them. And it was to him, when danger threatened from without, the flock would go. For the Well-being of the flock was no 9 to 5 to the shepherd, but Was his life. A life that, if Need be, he would lay down for them.
This is love…
Now, would God have given Adam to do—by settling him in the Garden to work it and to keep it—that which Adam was Not Made for?
Adam was given to do what would be Natural to him. What would be Satisfying to him. He was given to do what he Was Fitted for, his soul’s purpose. And, therefore, our soul’s purpose: To love.
When Jesus had taught on Loving one’s enemies, He ended the lesson with the exhortation to Be perfect. Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5.48). The Greek word is telios, and means perfect Not in some abstract, impossible sense, but in a Functional one. Simply, a thing is telios If it fully realizes the Purpose for which it was made.
And man’s Purpose, as unfolded to us in Genesis, and affirmed here by Jesus, is To love. To Give of one’s self wholly—hands and heart. To love as God loves. We are Unfit to do otherwise.
That this is difficult for us, if not impossible for us, only testifies to our Brokeness, our distance from Him, and not His from us.
Without and within, man is made in God’s likeness. God is love. And love Is the center on which the clay of man has been turned. It is By God, we know love. And it is By love, we know God.
The bread we give to another is not to our Credit, but for Our Need. The bread we share Is not an End, but a Means…The means to what alone will Satisfy…To what alone will make us Whole…
The realization of our Purpose.