Study Guide: A Tale of Two Trees

Sunday June 5, 2022 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

There were two trees in the Garden of Eden, one representing where we get true life from and one representing a prohibition from what steals from life. This sermon explores the significance of these two trees.

Extended Summary:

There were two trees in middle of Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The first tree is about trusting God’s provision for life (Tree of Life), while the second is about honoring God’s prohibition from trying to know good and evil.

When we eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it leads us to believe that we have the right and the ability to competently define good and evil for ourselves. This tree is the original and foundational sin of the Bible because it keeps us from fulfilling our all-important original mandate: to participate in God’s love by loving God, loving ourselves, loving our neighbors as ourselves, and caring for the earth and animal kingdom.

Life as God intends it to be lived revolves around two things. We must trust God’s provision of fullness of life as we get all of our core needs for feeling significant, special, fully alive, secure and loved from our Creator. And we must honor God’s prohibition to not think of ourselves as kings who have the right or the capacity to pronounce judgments on others.

When we take of this tree, we are acting as kings, becoming the judge of others, as we ascribe worth to ourselves at the cost of others. Our actual calling is to ascribe worth to others at cost to ourselves. When we judge, we are acting like vampires, sucking the worth from others for our own benefit.

This point is thoroughly expounded in the New Testament, including Matthew 7:1-3, 1 Timothy 1:15, Romans 2:1, 1 Corinthians 6:3-5, James 4:11-12, and Romans 12:4,10. The first of these passages is the core passage for this series and it reads:

‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s[ eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?’ — Matthew 7: 1-3

If you don’t want to be judged on the judgment day, don’t judge others. If you judge, it will come back on you. When we judge we minimize our own faults and maximize those of others. Jesus says instead, that we must maximize our own sins and, minimize other’s. Whatever shortcoming you see in another, it’s a mere dust particle compared to your own log.

This attitude should distinguish a Kingdom community compared to others. While most communities rally around a distinctive claim of superiority they make for themselves, a Kingdom community can make no distinctive claim of superiority for itself. We are a community that confesses that we are all broken, and we humbly place ourselves at the bottom as sinners who are being saved and transformed by Jesus Christ.

Reflection Questions: