July 23, 2015 • Life for Leaders
And the LORD God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them.”
As we have seen, the sin of the first humans leads to multiple layers of brokenness. Brokenness affects personal identity, intimate relationships, the relationship between human beings and God, and the relationship between people and the earth. We will continue to do the work God had assigned to us, but now with greater difficulty and pain. And, at the end of our lives, we will die, returning to the dust from which we were made. Not a pretty picture, to say the least.
Yet, in the midst of this sad scenario there are glimmers of grace. The first, as you may recall, was when God sought out the man and woman, even calling out to them (3:9). Another glimpse of grace appears in Genesis 3:21: “And the LORD God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them.”
Immediately after the man and woman ate the forbidden fruit, their eyes were opened so that they felt shame about being naked. Therefore, they “sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves” (3:7). But this initial effort at making clothing was doomed to fail. Loincloths made from flimsy leaves would hardly work to cover the men and women and protect them from the elements of the newly broken world. So God intervened, making “garments of skins” for the first couple and clothing them. This clothing would be much more effective and resilient than a skirt of leaves.
Why is God’s clothing of the man and woman a glimmer of grace? For one thing, we see that God does not abandon his creatures even though they abandoned him. God does not say, “Good luck, fools!” and laugh while the man and woman flail away in failed attempts to take care of themselves. Rather, God gives them what they need, offering something better than they could do for themselves. God does this, not because the man and woman repented, but because God’s grace anticipates and elicits our response, including repentance.
It’s also worth noting that God clothes the man and woman before casting them out of the garden (3:22-24). Yes, the punishment for sin will be a strict one. Yet, as the first humans try to make their way in a world broken by sin, no longer enjoying the benefits of the garden, they will be protected and prepared because of what God has done for them. Thus, by clothing the man and woman, and by doing so before driving them out of the garden, God reveals his grace.
God is with us and for us even when we have rejected him. God’s grace is given, not when we deserve it, for then it would not be grace. Rather, grace comes when we are undeserving, vulnerable, needy, and even guilty. Grace is unearned and undeserved. Genesis 3 gives us a glimmer of glorious grace that is yet to come.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
As you reflect on God’s making clothing for the man and woman, what do you think? How do you feel?
Have you experienced something like this in your life? Have there been times when God graciously cared for you after you had made a mess of your life?
Gracious God, yes, gracious God, thank you for clothing the man and woman. Thank you for caring for them in their helplessness and vulnerability. Thank you for doing so, not because they deserved it, but because of your grace.
O Lord, help me to see all the ways you are gracious to me. Give me eyes to see the glimmers of grace in my life, so that I might be filled with gratitude for your goodness. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.