The Lure of the Fruit…in the 21st Century
In a conversation with my husband the other day, a question arose—a question that prompted a statement from him which sort of stopped me in my tracks.
We were discussing a book I was reading on Progressive Christianity, and as we discussed the thoughts of a major progressive writer, he asked, “So they are basing these beliefs on what some person says about the Bible?”
I said, “Well, yes, that’s right.”
Then he asked this question: “Why are people always looking to books outside the Bible to understand things?” While I was still processing his words, he made the statement that brought me so much pause. He said, “It’s still all about the fruit—about knowing more because trusting God isn’t enough.”
The lure of the fruit. The thought that God didn’t tell us what we need to know, and that we as humans can figure out what God really wants.
Ecclesiastes 1:18 tells us,
For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
This verse comes on the heels of a statement about seeking the understanding of wisdom but also of madness and folly. How is it that seeking to understand both the foolish and the wise can lead to increased frustration and sorrow?
A few weeks ago, I was in one of these figuring-out places—not questioning, like Eve, “Did God really say…?”—but confused about some things I was struggling with and trying to figure out what to do. I am a researcher by nature. I love knowledge, reading, and learning.
But what do I gain from all this knowledge? What good is continuing to fill myself with information? What am I searching for?
I was led to open my Bible after praying and asking God for help.
Opening to Proverbs 3, I read these words in verses 5-8:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
This will bring healing to your body
and refreshment to your bones.
Right there in the words I’ve read numerous times was the answer to my struggles.
I was trusting in my understanding, thirsting for knowledge, and seeking my answers and my peace and trust—but I had left out the first fundamental: trusting my Savior. I was chasing the fruit.
I found the words “Your ways are higher, and your thoughts are higher” going through my mind, and I started to search for them in my Bible. I passed the ribbon marker in my Bible several times as I searched the prophets for those words, knowing I had read them many times. Finally, I went back to the ribbon and the place that it marked—a passage that I have been to many times over the past three years, a passage marked with the date of nearly every day I read these words over and over to myself as God has led me.
There in Isaiah 55, I found these words:
Come, all you who are thirsty.
Incline your ear, listen.
Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him for He is near.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways My ways,
declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
My answers are found in trusting God and leaning on Him when I don’t understand, or when I am overwhelmed with all the why’s and how’s of life. When I forget that He is in control and I try to take the lead, I find myself thirsty, searching, and back in the garden.
Curiosity can definitely be a good thing and can even turn into a career.
Research can and has given us so much blessing. Scientists have saved lives and made important discoveries. Inventors have given us light, cars, and more things than we can list here to make our lives a bit easier. We have learned about history, animals, past civilizations, and so much more because someone was curious.
We can pick up a book on almost any topic and learn, and that’s a good thing. So, when can the thirst for knowledge become a temptation? And how can we stop leaning on our own understanding and turn back to God when we find ourselves here?
James 3:14-16 (NKJV) tells us:
But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
Does your curiosity or desire to learn become more about proving yourself than about pursuing God and what he wants for you? Do you tend to think to yourself, “I can find the answer to this, if I just keep looking”? Do you find yourself restless—never content with what you know or who you are? Do you struggle with needing to know what’s around the corner and obsessing about the future?
When we become consumed with reading more books, listening to more podcasts, searching and searching the internet for more information and less concerned with what God says in His word and the truth we find there, then we have fallen for the lure of the fruit again.
When our brains run circles trying to make connections and figure out things, we have to remember to step back, take a moment, and remind ourselves that we don’t have to know everything.
We need to put into practice the words above from Proverbs and Isaiah: Trust in God with all our hearts, seek Him, listen attentively, and remember that we don’t have to understand everything in this world because He does and already knows the outcome. Let your pursuit of knowledge and wisdom be a confident curiosity grounded in your trust in God—not an obsessiveness driven by your fear of the unknown.