Genesis 3:2-3 - And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 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.'"
As you can see from up above, the theme of this devo is "Give him an inch and ...."
As part of my research, I thought it would be wise to find out where the expression comes from. Wikipedia told me that the bit of common-sense wisdom was almost first used by John Heywood in the year 1546. I say, "almost first used" because when Heywood put together a collection of expressions and sayings which were popular in his day, he included, "Give him an inch and he'll take an ell."
That quote made things as clear as mud. What, I had to know, is an "ell."
Knowing that you are also burning with desire to know, I'll tell you what I found: an ell is a measurement that was once used in the fabric industry. An ell is a cubit, the distance of a man's arm from elbow to fingertip, approximately 18 inches.
So, John Heywood was saying, "Give him an inch and he'll take 18."
In Altadena, California, resident Mark Hough recently found the truth of the old adage. Hough was at his house, all alone in his hot tub, when he heard twigs snapping and leaves being stirred around on the forest nearby. He thought it was his neighbors. It wasn't.
It was a bear which was climbing over his fence.
Hough made a wise, albeit, hasty retreat from his hot tub. Picking up his video camera, he recorded modern-day proof that there is still truth in the words: give him an inch and he'll take a mile ... or an ell.
As you just heard, the bear took his first inch when Hough vacated his backyard. In just a few minutes, he saw the bear get into, and enjoy, the hot tub; finish off his margarita and take a leisurely, lengthy nap next to the hot tub. Give him an inch and he'll take a mile.
Adam and Eve also found that to be true when they were accosted by Satan.
The tempter started by asking about the tree which Adam and Eve had religiously been avoiding. Eve explained that God said we're not supposed to eat from this tree, and then she added that nor are we to touch it.
What!? God had never said that.
In the conversation, Satan kept taking, and he wasn't content with his day's work until the garden had been lost, death had entered the world, and God's children were condemned to hell for all of eternity. Yes, give the devil an inch and he'll take a mile. It's as true for us as it was for Adam and Eve.
Which is why we go to Jesus for our forgiveness and salvation. You see, Jesus is special. He is the only human being who never gave Satan an inch. Nowhere in His life did Jesus compromise with evil. He just resisted temptation, declined the devil, carried our sins, and defeated death. Now, because of Jesus' refusal to give an inch, we who believe are given eternal life.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, send Your Holy Spirit upon us so we may be given the insight and strength to resist Satan's suggestions and temptations. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Merit Kennedy for NPR on July 3, 2018. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: https://www.npr.org/2018/07/03/625599623/bear-hot-tub-margarita
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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