“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4: 1-9, NIV)
Next Wednesday, the Christian Church will launch into our 40 day observance of the Lenten season. Lent is a time when we are called to reflect upon our lives, our shortcomings, our relationships with one another and with the Lord. During this time we are encouraged to sacrifice something…to “fast” from some treasured activity, some delicious food or something that pleases our senses in a solemn act of contrition. The sacrifice is meant to help empty us of ourselves and our selfish desires, in exchange for a greater awareness of our need for God.Today’s passage is a critical reminder of how easy it can be to allow “crouching sin” to enter the door of our heart.
The struggles of Cain can teach us some very valuable lessons:
- Both Cain and Able brought from the “first fruits” of their produce, but Cain did not receive the Lord’s favor. This passage has always been a bit troubling. Why wasn’t Cain’s offering accepted? What more could the Lord have wanted from him? Could it be that Cain’s offering did not cost him anything? Able chose to sacrifice the best that he had and bring it to the Lord. It seems that Able offered the Lord his very best. It seems that Cain’s offering lacked sacrifice. Do we give our best to the Lord? Does it cost us anything? God wants the best of us, not just what is easy and convenient.
- Cain became angry and downcast because he was jealous of his brother. Human nature torments us with angry and jealous thoughts as someone else is preferred before us. Cain, however, did not take time to discover why his offering was not accepted. When we focus all of our attention on what someone else has, rather than considering our own ways, anger and jealousy can overtake us. This is not to suggest that injustices don't create inequitable conditions in this world. It is saying, however, that there are times when our own choices, our own foolish and selfish ways, our own irreverent spirit causes us to miss out on the favor and rich blessings of God. If you find yourself angry and jealous of others, first look at yourself.
The Lord spoke to Cain and said,
"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 spoke to Cain about the “sin crouching at his door,” but he was too angry to listen. The Lord in so many words was warning Cain that if he did not get a handle on the unjustified emotions of anger and jealousy in his heart, it would overtake him, ruin his life and destroy others. Sin is crouching at all of our doors, tempting, lurking, waiting to pounce upon us and take control of our lives. But the Lord let’s us know that we can conquer sin.
We all have sin crouching at the door of our hearts, but through confession, repentance, and crying out to our Lord, we can and must conquer its call. There is good news in this story. If Cain did not have the capacity to resist sin, God would not have warned him ahead of time. Cain could still hear God speaking, even after he had killed his brother. God does not stop talking to us, even when we make tragic mistakes. His desire is that we avoid the painful downfall, listen and turn back to the right path. But if we fall, God still desires to win us back. The Lord has no pleasure in the death, the separation of his children from Him (Ezekiel 18:23).
The Lord wants our best. There is a cost to discipleship. Are you willing to pay the cost and give the Lord your all?
When we focus all of our attention on what someone else has, rather than considering our own ways, anger and jealousy can overtake us. Is your anger and hostility misdirected? Could it be that you are withholding something that is hindering your own favor and blessing from God? Has the Lord spoken to your heart, warning you of impending danger, yet you are too angry to listen? What sin is crouching at your door? What warnings are you ignoring? Through God’s grace and faith, by the power of God’s precious Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ, you can overcome the power of sin in your life.
Have you already made that tragic and or painful mistake? The Lord wants you back. Although you will still have to face the consequences of your choices, God still loves you, cares about you and will protect you from the onslaught of the enemy who seeks to devour you. You still belong to the Lord.
May we spend time praying, reflecting, repenting and listening to the voice of our Heavenly Father who loves us and desires only what is in our best interest, contrary to the lies of satan.
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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,