CAN YOU LOSE YOUR VALUE? - WEEK 3
We’ve covered that people have intrinsic value to God simply by being conceived. We’ve, also, covered that we need to acknowledge this by loving ourselves and loving others as we love ourselves. Now, the big question: Can you lose that value? Can you, by your actions and mistakes become worthless in God’s eyes. To answer that, I want us to look at Cain. Cain and Abel’s story has been retold so many times that everyone knows it. Everyone knows he was the first murderer. His name is a byword for irredeemable evil. So, everyone knows the story...or rather everyone thinks they know the story. But, answer me this, is Cain’s mark a curse or a blessing. Popular culture says it’s a curse, a mark that shows he is hated and worthless and given up to evil. Popular culture is wrong. Cain’s story shows how much God loves us even when we’re in the midst of rebellion and mistakes. He is always trying to convince us to choose Him, to come back to Him. Let’s look at the story and see if I can convince you. Cain was the first child born on earth. Abel was the second. Cain became a farmer while Abel was a shepherd. One day, each man offered a sacrifice. And here’s where the problem starts. Abel’s sacrifice was accepted and Cain’s was rejected. Why? Honestly, we don’t know. The Bible only says “The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering but on Cain and his offering, He did not look with favor. So, Cain was very angry and his face was downcast.” Genesis 4:4-5. So, we don’t know the specifics of why Cain’s sacrifice was not acceptable, only that it was and Cain was angry. He took it personally, maybe he even felt he wasn’t being valued. But, he was wrong. God saw Cain’s anger and jealousy and He spoke to Cain. Let me repeat that. God spoke to a man filled with anger, a man who had failed to provide a proper sacrifice. God spoke to a man who was already heading down the road to rebellion. And what did God say to him? Genesis 4:6-7 “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But, if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” God reached out to this angry, rebellious man, asking Cain to let go of anger. God told Cain that Cain could have all the blessing and love Abel was getting. All Cain had to do was turn from his anger and make a new sacrifice, a correct one. God was warning Cain, trying to get Cain to turn from the path of rebellion. When I read the words, I hear a pleading tone. Even with a failed sacrifice, raging anger and growing rebellion, God still wanted Cain, still valued him. Unfortunately, Cain didn’t listen. He let his anger and jealousy rule him. He lured Abel out to a field and murdered him. Then he buried Abel and tried to cover up what he had done. When God asks Cain about the missing Abel, Cain attempts to play dumb. Genesis 4:9 “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” Cain replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” So, now Cain has offered an unacceptable sacrifice, let rage rule him, committed murder and, now, has lied directly to God. At this point, God tells Cain that He knows what happened, that Abel’s blood is crying out to Him. So, God punishes him in Genesis 4:11-12 “Now, you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” See anything missing? No mention of a mark. Here’s the curse but no mark. When did the mark happen? Let’s read on. God’s curse on Cain was that he would wander the earth, unable to put down roots, to never have a home. He might build places, he might stay for awhile, but he would always have to leave again. On hearing this, Cain begged for mercy. In Genesis 4:13-14, he pleads “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today, you are driving me from the land and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me.” Cain is begging for mercy but, please note, he’s still in rebellion. He is not repenting of his sins; he is not even taking responsibility for them. He is even blaming God. Cain says God is driving him from the land rather than admitting the real cause - Cain’s own actions. The murder he committed despite God’s warnings brought him to this cursed state but Cain doesn’t want to admit it. Cain’s afraid and he’s pleading for mercy but he is still in rebellion against God. Focus on this - a rebellious human, an unrepentant murderer, is begging God for mercy. What value does this man have? What right does he have to ask for mercy while refusing to repent? Why would God listen to this sin stained human? But, God does listen. God not only listens to this angry, rebellious human’s please, God grants Cain mercy. Genesis 4:15 - But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. God still loved this angry, rebellious, murdering human enough to give him mercy, enough to ensure that Cain could live long enough to, maybe, come to repent his crimes. God still wanted Cain to come back, He still loved Cain. We don’t know if Cain ever did repent but we know he lived long enough to have that chance because God marked him. The mark protected him, it was an act of mercy. If God still valued a rebellious murdered enough to give him a mark of mercy and protection, then how can we call a person worthless? Anyone? How can we doubt our own worth even when we make mistakes? As much as we may dislike what a person does, as much as we may be ashamed of what we’ve done, God still loves us, still wants us. We can not lose value in God’s eyes. Regardless of what we do, God is still standing there, asking us to come back. Jesus died for our sins, all of them, because no matter what we’ve done, God and Jesus still want us back. 2 Peters 3:9 “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.” God has been proving His love for each of us from the beginning when He gave a mark of mercy and protection to an openly rebellious man. His arms are always open to us, always waiting for our return. No matter what we do, no matter how lost we become in sin and rebellion, God still wants us back.