Keywords: Abel, Cain, enemies, grace, motive
Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear.”
My devotional Bible suggests that I identify with Cain, his guilt, shame, dismay, and how he felt at God’s unexpected grace. Before thinking about the grace part, I thought about him and his relationship with Abel.
They were rivals because they were different. Abel did something that pleased God and was blessed. While Cain had a bad attitude afterwards, the text is not clear that he brought his sacrifice that way. Maybe he was sincere.
More likely he knew that it should be an animal sacrifice though, but he was too proud to ask Abel to give him something from his herd to take to God. He wanted to obey, so he took what he had instead of what God asked for, hoping that would be good enough.
Oh, I can identify with this and the way I raised my kids. I did not do what God wanted. I did what I thought was okay but it was not. I compare myself with Janet or other families whose children walk with the Lord and feel much like Cain must have felt when he looked at Abel and realized God was pleased with his offering.
At this moment, my grief for my sin of neglect must be something like Cain’s agony over his. I’m thankful that, unlike Cain, I’ve not murdered those I envy but like him, I’ve felt banished from the presence of the Lord at times, certainly out of His blessing on my family.
Then I come to the part of God’s grace. It was not enough that he disobeyed God with the sacrifice but he then murdered his brother. Cain should have died for his sin but God allowed him to live and protected him from the wrath of those around him.
Think about that. I screwed up. But God has allowed me to live, to have a rich ministry, to not be condemned by other Christians for the fact of my failure as a parent. They graciously understand for they too bear the mark of Cain; we all do.
Cain never asked God to bend the rules for him. Too often, that is how I approach God, wanting Him to somehow speak His Spirit into their hearts and fill in what I should have done when they were small. I know that He can do that. I know that anyone, even those who are taught well by their parents, can say no to the grace of God or remain unmoved by the Word of God. I also know that God speaks through His Word and He may not, even to those who are taught it. This does not depend totally on me, so God could do it. That is not the issue.
The issue is that I’ve been more greedy than grateful when it comes to His grace about this. What if I got what I deserved? What if my family got what they deserve? They are alive. So am I. And the mark of Cain keeps me in a state of blessing that is by God’s grace and mercy.
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