Then the Lord God took the man and placed him
in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.—Genesis 2:15
Cultivate: to improve by labor, care, or study; to refine or cultivate the mind (Merriam-Webster.com).
God in His perfection and goodness created a garden and mankind (in His own image and likeness). He put mankind in the garden to take care of or cultivate that perfect garden. Everything God made in the beginning was good and mankind was blessed.
However, this perfect and good garden needed someone to work it and take care of it. The garden was created with the need for cultivation built into its very fabric. So how is it possible that perfection had needs? I believe we can equate God’s perfection with our idea of perfection. Perfection to me means it is complete, can’t be improved upon, is something that is ideal. Maybe our perception of perfection is flawed. Perhaps perfection in God’s creative power is designed with needs – a need for collaboration – a need for partnership. Perfection to God seems to be bigger than a completed project. It involves growth, development, pruning, setting of boundaries, relationship building, love, guidance, and much more.
I believe this is a picture of what God is teaching us about how God built us to be cultivated and cared. Genesis presents a picture of how Adam was not good when he was alone without someone to relationship with, even though freshly released from the creative hands of God and in a perfect garden. Mankind, the adam species, was created with needs and abilities. Perfection created with needs. Needs present before the fall. Needs and abilities to love and be cared for, needs for relationships and partnerships, and needs and abilities to dominate things, but not the people in our lives.
In John 15 God is called the husbandman or farmer. As we grow in the knowledge of Christ, God cultivates our hearts and minds. The word husbandman is used a number of times in the Bible. It is described by various Hebrew words but translated most often as farmer. Some of the Hebrew words define the word husbandman as owner, master, tiller of the soil, someone who prunes, and cultivates. We have a powerful picture of God’s wisdom in His knowledge of the unique needs of each of our hearts and minds through the analogy of farming and crop growth needs in Isaiah 28:23-29.
Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say. When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil?
When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?
Does he not plant wheat intis place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field?
His God instructs him and teaches him the right way….. All this comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.
Our Father in heaven know how He designed us, and how He intends to use our unique needs and abilities to grow and nurture us. As He cultivates us, we learn how to cultivate and relationship with others. Lean into His teaching, His pruning, His sowing into your life today and watch Him continue to work His perfection in you.