The problem of poverty began in the garden. There, we had everything we needed. Adam’s job was to guard the garden against the presence of evil, but he failed. He stood back when the enemy appeared, and instead sent his wife to face the serpent. Not a good model for Biblical manhood! Every form of trouble that has afflicted the human race stems from that fateful encounter.
God told Adam and Eve they could eat of every tree except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and if they did they would surely die. When Eve spoke with the serpent, she added to God’s words, saying God had commanded them not to eat the fruit, nor to touch it. There was a good reason for the command God did give — to eat of the tree would give Adam and Eve the right to determine good and evil independently of God. There was no reason, however, why they should not touch it. What was she doing? She was making God appear to be extreme and unreasonable by giving out arbitrary commands for no reason. Thus she portrayed God as a legalist. Not only that, she twisted God’s words another way. God had said they could surely eat of every tree, but Eve simply said they could eat of the trees. So Eve minimized the privileges she had been given, while at the same time making God appear to be making unreasonable demands on her and Adam.
What was going on in Eve’s mind? It must have been something like this: she and Adam looked at all God had given them, but chose to focus on the one thing He had not. Even though all the needs they could ever have were more than provided for, it was not enough. They had to possess the one thing God had said they did not need and which belonged to Him alone. That twisted desire caused her to misrepresent and slander God to the enemy.
And this led to the birth of both poverty and the poverty spirit. Poverty because it led to their ejection from the garden into the barren world outside, and the poverty spirit because they had chosen to define themselves as people who never have enough. Ever since then the saying of Proverbs 27:20 has been true: “Never satisfied are the eyes of man.” Even though we live in one of the richest nations in the world, we are always able to find someone who has more than we do to provoke us to envy.
What is the lesson of this for us? The serpent gains entry whenever and wherever people begin to question God’s Word or twist it in an effort to make God appear unreasonable. Do we have hidden resentment against God? If we do, we will surely begin to misrepresent him and find fault with him. It is common today for people to portray God as saying things He does not say in an effort to discredit God and Scripture by making both appear unreasonable.
The enemy played on this fatal weakness in Eve. As a result, she was prodded into taking action to secure for herself what she could not believe God for. From that moment, fallen men and women became takers, not givers, as God, the greatest Giver, had intended them to be.
There is a trend in some professedly Christian circles today to undermine the authority of God’s Word. Take a lesson from Eve — we do so at our peril.
Edited for clarity 12.08.2015.