Every man faces the same sin (and I’m not talking about lust):  passivity. This is one of the sins that is considered a man’s sin. I’m not saying there aren’t passive women, but every man deals with it from time to time. I have heard men claim that they don’t have passive natures, and many of us don’t have an outwardly passive one, but all of us have some passivity at our core. You may be a hard-charging go-getter or an easy-going bum, we all have it in us to let things happen without our involvement. I truly learned about this nature in a recent study on biblical manhood.

What is a passive nature?

Websters Dictionary gives us several definitions, but this seems to be the best for this message: tending not to take an active or dominant part.

A passive nature is one that does not take an active role in decisions or actions. Often this is a person who submits to another person’s will simply because it is easier than figuring out what to do or taking responsibility themselves. I’ve talked about submission before, but this is a different kind of submission, this is not submission to authority as can be directed by scripture, but it is submission to another out of ease regardless of the consequences. Another view of passive nature is passive aggressiveness. This is the nature of supporting someone to their face while stabbing them in the back. This is the person who will leave a note griping about people using something of theirs and then act like it’s perfectly fine if you use it. Passive aggressive people do everything they can to avoid direct conflict, but stir the fire incessantly anonymously.

There are different levels of this extending from laziness to passive aggressiveness. Here is a blog I found on passive natures. Here are several more entries I found through a simple Google search for “passive nature”. Spend a little time reading others’ ideas on this to get a good feel for what a passive nature truly is and how to identify it in yourself.

Scriptural support

This nature is first seen in Genesis. It was always taught to me that the serpent seduced Eve with the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and that she then brought it to Adam. However, if you read the passage closer you notice a few things. Genesis 3:1-6 gives us a different picture that what you may have learned in Sunday school:

“Now the serpent was more shrewd than any of the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Is it really true that God said, ‘You must not eat from any tree of the orchard’?”  The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the orchard; but concerning the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the orchard God said, ‘You must not eat from it, and you must not touch it,  or else you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “Surely you will not die,   for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will open and you will be like divine beings who know good and evil.” 

When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food,was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.”

Read that passage again, ignoring what you already know about the story. What do you find? Let me highlight the points.

  • The serpent was shrewd.
  • The serpent spoke with Eve and lied about the fruit of the tree.
  • Eve saw the fruit was good and visually pleasing.
  • Eve ate of the fruit.
  • Eve gave some to Adam.
  • Adam ate of the fruit.

You’ll notice, there is no mention of Eve traveling to find Adam, only that she gave him the fruit. In fact, looking even closer you’ll notice that in the last verse of this passage, it reads “her husband who was with her.” Adam was there when the serpent was talking to Eve, not somewhere else.

Also, reading the chapters leading up to the fall, you will not find a place where God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree, but you will find in Genesis 2:17 that Adam was told. Let me stress that, Adam was told, not Adam and Eve. When they were discovered by God, Adam did not stand up and take responsibility for his actions. Remember Adam was told not to eat from the tree. Adam stood by while Eve ate from the tree –after he had told her God’s command. Adam took the fruit from Eve when she did not die and had some himself. And last but not least, in Genesis 3:12, Adam passed the buck. Instead of manning up and taking responsibility when asked by God, Adam points fingers and blames Eve. He says “The woman you gave me.” Not only is he pointing the finger at Eve, he is pointed the finger at God, as He gave Eve to Adam.

Have you ever redirected the blame to someone else? You know what I’m talking about. That project that you were put in charge of and then fell apart because so-and-so didn’t do what they were supposed to. When the boss came calling you placed the blame on that person, even though you were the one leading the project. This is the same thing. It is a passive attitude, instead of going to that person to motivate and get the job done, you pointed the blame and sat back and watched the fireworks. This is what Adam did and this is what we as men still do.

Genesis 3:17-19 gives us a picture of the punishment doled out by God on Adam. God’s reason for the punishment is clear. It is not because Adam ate from the tree; it is because Adam ate from the tree after Eve told him to and God told him not to. In passively obeying his wife, Adam disobeyed God. The punishment is for this disobedience. The scripture actually reads, “Because you obeyed your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it.’”

Application

So what can we do about this? As men, it’s easy to step aside and let someone else take the blame, or just sit back awhile others do the work. Is this what we should do? Not according to the message in Genesis 3. In Genesis 3:16, God tells the Eve, “You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.” God tells Eve that she will desire control (the woman’s side of the sin), but will be dominated by Adam. This is a clear statement to me that we as men cannot allow women to dominate us. If we are passive, then we are allowing her control to be dominant. I’m not saying we should expect or demand subservience from her, but that we cannot let her be the controller that she desires to be.

Take a look at your life. When have you sat back and just let things happen? When have you stood aside while another messed up, knowing that it was not only your responsibility, but your duty to stop them? When have you set someone else up for failure, or shifted the blame? These are the things we as men must avoid. We aren’t called to be tyrants, we are called to be leaders. Leadership is not a passive thing. Leadership is not a lazy thing. Leaders take responsibility on themselves. Leaders accept the blame and work through it, succeeding where others fail.

Are you ready to be a leader? Set aside the passivity and take the mantle of leadership as a man of God. You’ll be amazed at the success He gives you.

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

Comments
  1. Gary Taylor says:

    Oh, yeah, the passive guy. I ain’t one. BUT there are more dimensions to our failure in Adam. Some of us woulda stood there, distracted by our busy, meaningful life in the garden, saving it and keeping the bad guys out. Like me. I have a dear friend who is so self oriented he’d be the Adam that saw it all happening, but in calculating the cost–wrongly–he’d conclude loss greater than gain for him to lean into Eve’s problem.

    We could expand more, but the point is, WE GUYS WERE ALL THERE and we’ve lived in denial or born the shame ever since.

  2. […] Manhood Challenges: Overcoming the Passive Nature « Hardcore …Apr 7, 2012 … Title: The Half-Lived Life: Overcoming Passivity and Becoming Compassionately Assertive. Date: Friday, October 19, 2012. Time: 8:30 AM … […]

  3. The scripture that discusses her “longing” for her husband I think is more indicative of her idolatry than of her desire to control him. My son is very manipulative toward me, but I set boundaries in love and nip that in the bud. If a man is struggling with being manipulated, he is going to have to set boundaries in love. If his wife is longing for him in place of God, he is going to have to resist the temptation to abuse that power and must instead direct her toward God. Together, we can point our children toward God.

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