Yes. Prohibitions open our eyes.

When we choose to participate in what is prohibited, we learn lessons, if only about what not to engage in. But we often, should I say usually, rely on the outside influence to prompt engagement in the prohibition. Even when our desire is to choose the forbidden, it’s a lot more convenient to say, “The devil made me do it”.

God only knows how we sometimes wait for temptation from without to bolster the desire that is already within. Surely the serpent, being so very wise – “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made”(Genesis 3:1) – must have known about the man and woman’s desire to “be as God.”

So call it what we will- original sin, the fall, the human problem, the selfishness at the base of our sinfulness- needs to be owned so we can get over it.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with ambition in a people made in the divine image. We need to and should want to live up to the divine intention for our lives. We should want to add value to the gifts that we have been blessed with. There is absolutely nothing wrong with leaving a legacy, with letting God help us to prove that we are specially created for the glory of God!

Indeed, we are expected to let our light shine before others (Matthew 5); but at the root of our ambition is there too often that desire to outmatch God and to be able to boast in our own ability. That, I believe, is what God really detests, which is why we must own up so that we can really grow up.

Owning up, as I put it, then, has to do with investigating those desires that we wait for a serpent -actual or metaphorical- to prompt “Are you stupid? Why not?”

Do we notice how easy it is for very decent people to admit their biases, to inspect their pre-conceived notions that could prove to be faulty?

Do we, by contrast, observe how some devious people’s mistakes are always classified as someone else’s lies or put to other people’s misunderstandings, or bad influence on those who can detect the wrong motives?

Let’s own up, please! God already knows that mean streak in us, and still God loves us, and wants us to have the knowledge of good and evil so that we may choose the good. It is in so doing, that we prove ourselves human, created in the image of God.

 

Make me a captive Lord,

and then I shall be free.

Force me to render up my sword

and I shall conqueror be.’

I sink in life’s alarms

when by myself I stand.

Imprison me within thy arms

and strong shall be my hand.

George Matheson 1842-1906

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