So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. – Genesis 3:1-7
Funny thing about masks. Almost no one likes them. We put up with them because we have to in these pandemic days. We remove them as soon as we’re in a safe place. Some people refuse to wear them. Still others are leery of those they see in public who don’t wear a mask. I’m talking here about the masks we use because of governmental requirements or our own health concerns.
There are masks of a different kind and all of us wear them. Think of the time you’ve told someone you’re fine with a forced smile – faked to be sure – but hopefully convincing. Maybe you’ve been afraid, but put up a brave front to prevent someone from taking advantage of you. And what about that time you were simply angry and you spewed the toxic venom of hateful words toward someone you love. Anger is really pain born behind a mask, or pain borne alone.
Adam and Eve were the first to use masks. Not the kind that covers their faces, but the kind that covered their shame. And who could blame them? Shame is a powerful force. It shuts us down. It forces us to retreat into ourselves, or to a bottle, or to indulgences of many sorts. When Adam and Eve sinned, they felt a deficiency in their being. They realized they were naked. They now felt shame in this.
Remember the powerful report previously given – before their sin – “Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25)? But now they must cover themselves. They cannot let the other see them for who they are. And soon we’ll see them (foolishly) try to hide even from God.
Maybe you’ve seen the Adam Sandler movie, Liar, Liar. Sandler plays a fast-track lawyer who can’t lie for 24 hours due to his son’s birthday wish after he disappoints his son for the last time. The results are predictably funny (and sometimes tasteless). But it does lift up an issue we all must face. Must we not mask our ugly, unkind, or improper feelings or thoughts? Don’t we have to wear clothes – for our own sakes, and the sake of others?
We live in a fallen world. Masks, clothes, and discretion of speech are all necessary realities of our plight. But since God has chosen us “to be the holy people he loves, we must clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” That’s no mask. That’s the grace of God in action, and a reflection of his attitude and heart toward us.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. – Genesis 3:1-7