And the Lord said unto Cain, "Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him."
Three questions faced this firstborn of Adam and Eve. Cain had to think this through. He was given the opportunity by God to discover his heart on the matter and also given an ultimatum. If only Cain had considered this wise counsel from the only Wise God, in the form of questions. Instead, he considered his brother, Abel. He looked at how Abel was accepted readily. While Cain stood there with his offering limp in his hands, noticing that no value was put on all his labor. It looks like Cain brought his fruit. It was the fruit of the ground. It doesn’t say it was his first fruits or his best fruits, just fruit. And the comparison game had begun for the first time.
Abel’s offering unto the Lord was of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. It seems more thought went into his offering, more sacrifice. It is harder to give away the first part of your labor than it is to give out of your abundance. But Abel did it.
It’s important to note the Lord was not mad at Cain. He was loving Cain. But it was Cain that had the attitude. "God had not respect unto his offering" It might have been a reflection of Cain’s own attitude towards his offering to God.
Who likes to receive a gift, that is not given with the right attitude?
Maybe it was given out of obligation. And when it is not received by God with the right attitude, Cain had even more reason to be mad. That old game of comparison is maddening! It takes over and clouds the eyes of the player.
When confronted by God: “Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen?” It doesn’t say anything about Cain taking slow, careful consideration of these questions. If he had, he would have to confront himself with the motives in his own heart toward God, and his brother.
But so vicious is this devil of comparison, that it did not give way to the opportunity presented. Not even after God set Cain up with a choice:
“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”
God’s ultimatum is clear. It will eat you up unless you confront it. But if you do well… Cain could only think of how he was humiliated in front of everyone there. Especially his goody-two-shoes brother, who, in Cain’s estimation, was sucking up to God. Cain could not see straight. He was overtaken by this sin of comparison and vacuumed up into an act of violence against his brother.
To Cain, it only made sense to confront Abel. He had to let Abel know how he felt. He had to make Abel pay for this shame and guilt he felt. The anger was seething in him and seeping out of him. He had to find an outlet and that outlet was Abel. He could not even have a decent conversation with him. And when no one was around, Abel was made to pay for Cain’s rejection from God.
Why art thou wroth? Or angry? It’s hard to stop and ask yourself this when you are mad at someone. Just to stop, recognize it and not give over fully to the anger, is a huge task. But it is required if you are to be a mature adult, or to “do well.”
We are not told how old the young men were when all of this took place. There is a lot of information left out of this situation. But anger is something each of us can relate to. Anger is a familiar feeling. This time it is brought on by comparison. Comparison, or envy, is poison to a relationship. Since we know that these two brothers only had each other at this time, it was an important relationship for both of them. Cain seemed to lack the ability to value it at the time.
To stop and ask the question, requires one to put aside intense feelings of anger. The Bible says we can be angry and sin not.
Ephesians 4:26-27 Be angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
It is all right here, in God’s words, what happens with this sin until YOU decide to not sin or to give in to it. It takes over if you can’t stop and ask yourself, “why am I angry?” God was helping Cain to make a good decision. But Cain does not take time to think this through.
Sad. He had time. He just didn’t have the willingness. It also requires taking an objective look at your thoughts and feelings and also looking at the brother’s thoughts and feelings. These demands are the opposite of how we feel when we are mad. Inside of our emotions, the effort it takes to be objective is great. It’s risky in that the mad that was worked up into the great stink cloud it is, will have to wait. The pressure from that cloud is infuriating of itself. It is a driving force. It is hard to stop it long enough to take the temperature of the air outside the cloud. And there is a false “satisfaction” awaiting the cloud burst and storm that follows when Anger is allowed to have its way.
Asking, "why am I angry?" Is something a mature person would do. That person would want to go back to the basic facts. “Who am I? Who am I angry with? What exactly caused me to get angry? Who is God in the midst of all of this? If I give into my anger what are the possible outcomes?” And probably most important is, “Who will I be on the other side of this anger? If I act on the anger, what will happen to the other person? What will happen to me? What will happen to those I love, or the love the other person had for me after my anger is satisfied?
And what about the children involved? or the ones to come? How will this affect them? What about my parents? Who will accept me later with this in my past? Why is your countenance fallen?”
That is the thing about anger. It steals so much from you. The countenance is how people see you. It is an outward reflection of what is going on inside. And those that love you, God, in this, can see your heart. There is no hiding it from someone who loves you. This is another warning sign. If someone notices there is something wrong, they will ask, “What’s up?” this is an opportunity to self-examine, or to share with them if you want to. If only Cain had respected God for Who He is, he would have known the love that God had toward him even on the advent of sin in his life. If Cain had taken the time to counsel God about his feelings, Cain might have seen the great love that was engulfing him in this troublesome time.
But how could he? He had not been exposed to true love in his life. His parents had sinned. He had not seen the true love of God played out in the form of Jesus Christ in his life. What examples did he have?
But even when God, Himself came and talked with him. And he would not have any of it. Cain did not appreciate God’s efforts to guide him. He wanted what he wanted no matter the consequences. And he acted on it. And he had consequences.
How important is it for you to ask yourself these questions when you are angry? When someone notices that your countenance has fallen? Could there be some benefits learned from Cain’s lesson in which he failed?
STOP yourself next time you are angry, or someone asks you “What’s wrong?” think about this firstborn and take the opportunity to have a better outcome than Cain. Converse with God about the whys; the reason your countenance fell in the first place. Trace it back to the real problem and ask God to help with the solution. He is there and you have the example of the greatest love in the world, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Through this love, you have the opportunity to stop and examine your reason for anger. This Love will help you to overcome and be victorious in your situation and in your life. Do not spill innocent blood because of comparison, envy, or any other wiles of the enemy. That blood stains so deep, it is impossible to cleanse it without Jesus!
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