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Home Improvement: What Adam Should Have Learned About Eve

Genesis 3:1-13, I Peter

Just recently, my wife, Trisha came home from the store with a greeting card which she was kind enough to share with me. On second thought, maybe “kind” is not the right word. In any case, on the front of the card was a flowery picture and the sentiment was equally flowery—”If you love something, set it free. If it returns, then it’s yours to keep. If it disappears and never comes back, then it wasn’t truly yours after all.” When you open the card up, the message concludes: “And if it just sits there watching television and doesn’t even know it’s been set free, then you probably married it!”

Men and women are definitely different, and marriage is the place where we learn that the best. However, since not all of us are married, I think it is important to note that the principles governing relationships between men and women in marriage are applicable as well in all male-female relationships. Therefore, while I may focus on the narrow relationship of marriage, what I am going to say today can be helpful in a broader sense as well. I came across a little piece, clearly written by a man entitled: “The Ideal Wife—What every man expects and what he gets.” Listen.

What every man expects in a wife:

  • Always beautiful and cheerful
  • Could have married a movie star but wanted only you
  • Hair that never needs curlers or beauty shops
  • Beauty that won’t run in a rainstorm
  • Never sick; just allergic to jewelry and fur coats
  • Insists that moving furniture by herself is good for her figure
  • Expert in cooking, cleaning the house, fixing the car or t.v., painting
    the house and keeping quiet Favorite hobbies: mowing the lawn and shovelling snow
  • Hates charge cards
  • Her favorite expression is “What can I do for you, Dear?”
  • Thinks you have Einstein’s brain but look like Mr. Universe
  • Wishes you would go out with the boys so that she could get some sewing
    done

But what he actually gets in a wife:

  • She speaks 140 words a minutes, with gusts up to 180
  • A light eater; as soon as it gets light, she starts eating
  • Where there’s smoke, there she is, cooking
  • She lets you know you only have two faults—everything you say and everything you do
  • If you get lost, just open your wallet, she’ll find you

Yes, men and women are different. God Himself made them that way. But there is something I need to say about that, and I have tried to find a way to say it gently, sensitively, diplomatically; no luck so far, so here it is flat out:

Men are incredibly dumb when it comes to understanding what women need, want, desire, and appreciate in life.

Of course, it’s as old as Eden. Read the story of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis and you will discover that by the time Adam and Eve became estranged from God, they were already estranged from each other. Frankly, I think that most of that had to do with the fact that Adam didn’t seem to know and understand all he needed to know and understand about Eve. Today, then, I would like to share with you some things Adam should have learned about Eve.

First, Adam should have learned that Eve was a “Thou” and not an “It”.

Those terms come from the great philosopher, Martin Buber, who established two categories for all human relationships. “I-it” relationships and “I-Thou” relationships. The “I-it” relationship is what we have with inanimate objects. I have an “I-it” relationship to this pulpit. It is subservient to me. It functions when, where, how, and as I want it to function. It does what I want it to do. Its only purpose is to serve my needs. However, an “I-thou” relationship is what we have with an animate object, another human being. It is a relationship of equality; the way God intended it to be. Yet right here in the Book of Genesis, you see that Adam regarded Eve as an “it”. He says it himself: “Here at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. I shall call her woman because she comes out of me.” In his eyes, she was nothing more than just an extension of himself. She existed, as he saw it, to serve him and to meet his needs and to function at his behest. He related to her as an “it” and not as a “thou”. But that is directly contrary to the stated will of God. When you read Genesis, you realize that God very carefully, very deliberately created women for wondrous and wonderful purposes. He says: “I am going to make for this man a helper.” The word in Hebrew literally means a partner; someone to share life with, someone with whom to face and overcome life’s challenges. God established, right from the very beginning, an “I-thou” relationship between Adam and Eve.

All you Adams, please take note. You are to relate to your wife as a “thou” and not as an “it”. You can do that first and best by telling her that you love her. I want to share two letters with you to make the point. Because of our television ministry, I get a large mail response. It is quite wonderful, but sometimes it cuts right to your heart. I want to share with you two letters from older people, and I want you to listen carefully to the things that they say:

“Dr. Edington, please excuse my handwriting. I am not as young as I used to be. In fact, I’m 87 years young. I’m just here to tell you how much I enjoy your sermons on Sunday morning. I go to church on Sunday mornings at 11:00, but I get dressed so that I can sit down and listen to your sermon every Sunday. There is something I wish you could do for me. Please preach a sermon on love—not only for love of our Father in heaven, but love for our loved ones. I would love to tell every man, woman, and child, ‘Do not let a day roll over your head without hugging and telling your loved ones how much you love them.’ You never know when they go to work or to school whether you will see them again. I lost my wonderful wife on April 7, 1993. I have grieved so much having lost her and not telling her how much I loved her. You can do little things for him or her that show how much you love them, but it is not like hugging them and telling them you love them. I’m afraid that my wife died thinking that I didn’t love her, and it hurts me so much. I thank God for letting me have her for 60 years. I just wish that I could tell her how much she meant to me, and how much I loved her. Thank you again for your wonderful sermons.”

Second letter: “Dear Dr. Edington, please be kind enough to send me program # 560. I have been grieving for a year the loss of my dear Eugene. Some of your messages have been helpful to me. I remember hearing one on marriage during that year. I don’t know the program #, but if possible, I would like the one on saving a marriage to give to my three sons. My Eugene was 93 years old—a wonderful, very proper French gentleman. I’m still finding little folded notes written by him, tucked into unusual places like my chest of drawers, my shoes, my blouse pockets, my rosary box, etc. I will cherish these always. After the funeral in North Dakota, my daughter was helping me go through the files. One of the folders was labeled simply “Immediately”. She pulled that one. Inside was a single sheet of paper, and on that page a note, handwritten to me: ‘Dear D.D. There may be a time when I will be unable to say this. I love you dearly. Mr. Ogier. I really often thought that even at the age of 92, he had much wisdom he could pass on to younger husbands. Thank you for reading this. God bless you. Doris Ogier.”

Adams, please hear me. Tell your Eve that you love her. Show her that you love her. Live like you love her. Remember God gave her to you as a full partner for the facing and overcoming of life’s challenges. I didn’t say that. God did. She is a full partner, and must be treated as one.

The second thing that Adam should have learned about Eve was that she needed his presence with a “c” more than his presents with a “t”.

One of the things we learn from Genesis is that the serpent made contact with Eve. It made me wonder why. Was Eve more susceptible to sin than Adam? Of course not. Well, then, why did the serpent go after Eve? When you read this story, you discover that Adam was out enjoying all the wonders of nature, naming all the animals, doing significant and exciting things in the world. Eve was alone. Mark this down: Women will take up with serpents if they don’t have somebody to talk to. There’s many a woman who got married because she didn’t want to spend her evenings alone, and then got a divorce for the same reason. Eve needed Adam’s presence more than his presents.

There’s a wonderful little poem—I’ve been hiding it from my wife—but it’s a poem I am determined to take to heart: Listen.

“A woman, good Sir, does not ask for a lot
Or expect to be always adored
But she wants at least to be noticed
And not as soon as she’s married ignored.
It isn’t your face or the fatness of your purse
That leaves her at times disenchanted
She knows that she was taken for better or for worse
But she will not be taken for granted”

All you Adams out there, please take note. Your Eve does want your presents with a “t”, although I must tell you you do have to be careful even about that. I’m still trying to recover from a gift I gave Trisha once. I love chocolate milkshakes, but I’m still trying to recover from one Valentine’s Day when I gave Trisha a blender. I thought it was so romantic—she didn’t! So, give your Eve gifts, yes, but more than that, give them the gift of your presence. Find time, Adam, to spend with your Eve. Don’t tell me you haven’t got the time. I know. I watch you. You’ve got time to play golf and go fishing. You’ve got time to go to the Magic game, or the Florida-Florida State Football Game. I know you have time to do the things you want to do. I’m asking you to spend time with your Eve—regularly, consistently, not just occasionally. Give her the gift of your presence.

The third thing Adam should have learned about Eve was that his eyes were her mirrors.

How do we develop a sense of self-esteem in life? Psychologists tell us that it comes from beyond us, not from within us. It comes from God and from the people around us. We feel good about ourselves when we know that God has created us and loves us enough to give us His only begotten Son. We feel good about ourselves when we see that reflected in the people who are close to us. I dearly love my grandmother on my mother’s side. When I was a little boy, one of the things my Grandmother always did was to come up to me and grab my cheeks and pull my face right up to hers, and she would say: “Son, you’re going to be a great man in your life, and don’t you forget it.” She said that to me more times than I can remember. It doesn’t matter whether she was wrong or right in what she said. It’s what I felt on the inside. I knew that in her eyes that I mattered.

Adams, your Eve is going to look into your eyes, and your eyes will be her mirrors. There’s a great verse in 1 Peter 3. It reads: “Husbands, show consideration for your wives in your life together, paying honor to the woman as the weaker sex since they too are also heirs of the gracious gift of life so that nothing may hinder your prayers.” A lot of people read that and declare that women are the weaker sex. But that’s actually a very poor English translation of the original Greek. Do you know what the word we translate “weaker” really means? It’s the word that you apply to cut crystal. Cut crystal is fragile and it is to be handled delicately. Why? Not because it is weak, but because it is so valuable. Your Eve is like cut crystal, to be treasured and honored and cherished. You always honor and cherish cut crystal. Handle your Eve like cut crystal. She is not weak, but she is incredibly valuable. When she looks into your eyes, let her see just how valuable she really is. Your eyes will be her mirrors.

When you read the story in Genesis, you discover that before Adam and Eve ever were estranged from God, they were estranged from each other. I think that was true in large part because Adam didn’t understand what he needed to understand about Eve. My friends, especially all of us Adams, if we’re going to improve the quality of life in our homes, then we need to learn what Adam needed to learn about Eve.

So let me finish with this. Dr. Richard Selzer is the professor of surgery at the Yale University School of Medicine. In one of his books, he tells of an amazing incident. He had performed surgery on a young woman to remove a malignant tumor from her face. Then he writes these words: “I stand at her bedside looking down at her. Her face, post-operative, now frozen in a twisted, hideous, palsied, clownish grin—it shall ever be thus. I, the surgeon, followed religiously with care the curve of her cheek line, but in order to remove the cancerous tumor, I had no choice but to sever the little nerve that runs down to her mouth so that now I recognize that I have saved her life, but for what? On the other side of the bed stands her young husband, gazing down at her in the soft evening lamplight. They seem to be lost in their own little world. I look at them and I wonder, who are they, these two, this young man and this wry-mouthed creature I have created? Who are they that they look at one another and touch one another so generously, so lovingly, so greedily? Suddenly, she turns and looks at me and says, “Will my mouth always be like this?” I can barely stammer out the words, “Yes, it will. I had to cut the nerve.” The husband smiles. He says, “I like it. I think it’s kind of cute.” Suddenly I know who they are. I bow my head, because one cannot be bold when one stands in the presence of God. And then, unmindful of me, this young husband bends down over the bed to kiss his wife. I am close enough so that I can see how he twists his own lips in order to accommodate to hers—to show her that their kiss still works.”

Dear friends in Christ, no matter how you have to twist, no matter what adjustments you have to make, no matter what sacrifices you are called upon to endure, no matter how you have to rearrange your schedules or your priorities or even your life, no matter what you have to do or
say, please—I plead with you in the name of Jesus—please see to it that your kiss still works…

Amen and amen.

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