“We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.” – 1 John 3:12 NLT [Genesis 4:1-16]
Am I like Cain or Able, shepherd and caretaker or tiller of the ground? “Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” – Genesis 4:6-7 NLT
I’ve heard many questions about this passage – what was Cain doing that was so wrong, that GOD refused his gift but accepted his brother’s? I don’t know exactly what Cain did to anger GOD, but I think it is a warning to us to be careful about the how and the why when we do a thing. Being a gardener or a farmer, or a rancher or hunter – these are all noble occupations. GOD gave us the earth to be caretakers of it all. After all, they both feed us and clothe us; farmers with all the various plants, and hunters and ranchers with meat and hides. GOD wasn’t angry because Cain was a farmer. Was it pride that triggered Cain’s anger? In verse 7, it is very plainly said: “Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you.”
As we grow in our lives as Children of the LORD, we offer different gifts to Him depending on how we have been gifted. I would not offer to lead a choir (it would be disastrous!), but I could happily wrangle the animals for the Christmas pageant! If I insisted that I be the one to lead the choir and direct the pageant, would it be sinning? I expect so, because it would be pride alone speaking, not ability, because that is not where my talents lie. Was that where Cain got his anger? Was he jealous of his brother? It seems to me that much of our stumbling can be laid at these feelings of pride and jealousy. Stubbornness, too. I have kept on a path, knowing it was wrong, just to prove I could still reach the desired end – only it never works out well, because it is that sin crouching at the door that trips me up. Every time.
“But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the SON of GOD came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into GOD’s Family do not make a practice of sinning, because GOD’s Life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are Children of GOD. So now we can tell who are Children of GOD and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.” – 1 John 3:8-10 NLT
As Children of GOD, we want to break the cycle of sin. How do we do that, when it has such a strangle hold on us? Certainly not on our own power! When we accept JESUS as LORD of our life, the desire to do good and to follow in His example should – will – begin to grow, especially as we begin to study and learn His Word. Will we ever get it right? No. Sorry to disappoint, but no, not as long as we live in this sin-filled, imperfect world, with sin ready to waylay us at every corner. Don’t let that stop you! Every slip, every stumble, is an opportunity to grasp the Hand our LORD has extended to us and take another step up and forward. Remember, even though we may let go of Him, He never lets go of us! Now that’s a PROMISE.
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before GOD. Even if we feel guilty, GOD is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.” – 1 John 3:18-20 NLT
Again: “Even if we feel guilty, GOD is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.”
Guilt zaps confidence. GOD already knows our feelings, and He is greater than our feelings. He knows our heart. Guilt is not what He wants for us. He has taken away our sin, so why do we feel guilty? What do we have to feel guilty about? That feeling of guilt is not placed there by the LORD. It comes from the devil, the Enemy, and from the depths of hell. Guilt is not from GOD.
“Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to GOD with bold confidence. And we will receive from Him whatever we ask because we obey Him and do the things that please Him. And this is His Commandment: We must believe in the Name of His SON, JESUS CHRIST, and love one another, just as He commanded us. Those who obey GOD’s commandments remain in fellowship with Him, and He with them. And we know He lives in us because the SPIRIT He gave us Lives in us.” – 1 John 3:23-24 NLT
The Offering of Cain and Able, 12th Century mosaic, Palatine Chapel, Palermo