Cain And Abel - More Than A Murder
The story of Cain and Abel is one of the best known stories in the Bible and, I think, one of the most over simplified. It seems that most people do not feel it has any practical application for them because most people do not view themselves as capable of murder. I think most people are wrong. I believe that the story is one of the most relevant stories in our day to day lives. We all know the story that Cain killed Abel out of jealousy, have heard it for years or even decades…but that summary leaves out so much…leaves out the important parts. It’s not as simple as Cain was evil through and through and a murderer and has nothing to teach us. Cain was a human like you and me. The Bible doesn’t tell us why Cain’s offering was rejected due to an evil heart. It doesn’t actually explain why the sacrifice was unacceptable. I’ve heard different theories but the fact is nobody knows for sure what Cain did wrong. What we do know is that Cain’s offering was rejected and Abel’s was accepted and then Cain killed him…only it didn’t happen like that…not that fast. Cain’s offering was rejected and Cain was angry. He wanted God’s blessing. He wanted a pat on the back, a “Well done”, praise, to be blessed. He wanted what Abel had and he was angry that he didn’t have it. He watched Abel be blessed and he was angry at Abel for having what Cain wanted. Is this starting to feel familiar? How many times have you heard someone jealously complain about someone else having something nice like an iPad or good grades or an award? How often have we heard “They don’t deserve that” hissed in cruel tones or “Why can’t my car be that nice” or “Why doesn’t my yard look nice like that”? And so often the answer is: You didn’t put in the work. That kid with the top grade in class – How many hours did the child spend studying? Did you spend that same amount of time studying or playing games or hanging out with friends? That yard that is so beautifully manicured with green thick grass while your grass is half dead…Is it because they spent the time and money to do the fertilizing and seeding and watering and weed control required for that kind of yard and you didn’t? Did you put in the same work and dedication or did you enjoy a relaxing weekend? I’m not saying that relaxing and visiting with friends is wrong. I’m just trying to point out that certain actions lead to certainty results. If we want a specific result then we have to take the actions that lead to it or we won’t get it. Cain could have had what Abel had if Cain had just done the work…but he didn’t and he was mad at Abel for doing the work to get the reward. And so many of us fall prey to this. So many times we want the prize but are unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices to get it. Cain was jealous without reason. Which God told him. When Cain became angry, God spoke to him. See? Not so simple that Cain was just an evil from birth, unredeemable man. God SPOKE to Cain, warned him. God asked Cain why he was so angry, pointing out that God’s blessings are not finite. Cain could have had the same blessings that Abel had…if Cain would just put in the effort. God didn’t even say it had to be the exact same effort, just that if Cain did what was right, then Cain would be blessed by God. God warned him that evil was crouched at his door. God wanted Cain to do what was right and Cain could have. If we just put in the work needed, we can get those things we want. There are plenty of iPads and nice cars to go around. So, why are we angry at the people who put in the time and the work and saved up the money to get what they want when we could get the same? Is it maybe because it’s easier to be resentful rather than reflect on our choices that led us here, our responsibility? But, that resentment will grow into sin. Even though God warned Cain, even though God showed Cain a simple way to get what Cain wanted, Cain refused to put in the work and instead came up with a plan…a plan that really doesn’t make sense but is still replayed today time and time again. If Cain couldn’t have the blessing then no one got the blessing. Then Cain wouldn’t have to feel jealous. If Abel was removed then Abel wouldn’t be around to make Cain look bad…to remind Cain what was attainable with a little work and attention. So, Cain killed Abel…and still didn’t get what he wanted. Cain was cursed. And people still use this logic today. It doesn’t always lead to murder but it does lead to sin. The person who steals a computer or a tablet because they want to own it but they don’t want to save the money up to buy it, to sacrifice eating out or choosing to eat more cheaply for a month or 2 or giving up other purchase to get it. The person who spreads lies and rumors about someone that has received a reward or recognition, ruins their reputation or makes a scene at the event, doing whatever is needed to make others as miserable as the jealous one. The person who is jealous at the compliments someone gets for working to put on an event so he or she walks around the event and points out everything that is not perfect, being snide and insulting. When we do these things, when we stare at others’ accomplishments in anger, we are following Cain’s path. But, God has not given up on us, even when we behave badly. God warned Cain where his jealousy would lead him and God warns us where jealousy leads us by giving us the account of Cain and Abel in His Word. Even more, God shows us the incredible depth of His love and mercy. I’ve heard the mark of Cain referred to as a curse or a mark of a cursed man…but it’s not. God cursed Cain that Cain would never be able to settle, that he would be a permanent wanderer and Cain cried out in protest. Cain begged for mercy and confessed his fear that anyone who saw him would kill him. God’s answer to this plea was mercy. He placed a mark on Cain proclaiming, “If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold”. (Genesis 4:15) God showed mercy to the first murderer, a man who killed his brother and in doing so killed a good portion of the existing population at that time. So, as you go through your day, remember, do what is right and God has blessings enough for all. When you feel jealous of another, stop and think, are they really stopping you from having what you want or are you stopping yourself? And do you really want to risk letting that jealousy fester into something darker, something that will kill the relationships in your life? If you have already gone down those dark paths, turn around. The God that gave mercy to the first murderer is still waiting for you, still has enough mercy for you, for everyone. You just have to do what is right.