Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. ” Gen. 4: 2-7
Cain and Abel both brought offerings. God merely accepted one and not the other… pretty straight forward.
…Then 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.
God was simply teaching – no anger, no judgment. He was teaching about giving up and giving of one’s self. He was sketching a picture of redemption and using the sacrifice of a lamb to outline the way back to Eden.
God simply chose Abel’s offering to be the model of gift giving. All Cain had to do was learn the requirements and try again. No biggie.
Simply taught, and Cain chose not to learn. Or perhaps, more likely, Cain chose to listen to the Liar telling him he didn’t need to learn.
My heart gets tangled up like Cain’s sometimes. Like stubbing a toe, my spirit wants to whimper and complain, and yell at the obstacle in the way. Or worse, it wants to sulk and pout and retreat to licking its wound in despair.
But the Truth is: neither reaction comforts. Both choices – anger or despair – are crouching cougars ready to pounce. One says, “Get angry. It’s your right.” The other says, “Go ahead, cry me a river, you’ll never be good enough anyway.” They both promise to scratch the annoying phantom itch that says, “My way is better.”
Sometimes the hardest choice is to live loved
because learning from God can be crucifyingly difficult. Learning from Him can be a process: a listening, a watching, a doing. And learning from God can involve dying : dying to pride, to self, and to our own sense of what’s fair and right.
As younger woman, I felt sorry for Cain. “Poor guy,” I thought. “He tried his best!” I argued. I imagined a harsh, unfair and less than loving God. But I have a teacher’s perspective now and I can see a carefully designed object lesson a mile away: Cain wasn’t unloved, he just didn’t want to learn. It the gift that God refused, not the giver. It was Cain’s heart attitude in question, not his worth. He simply confused being taught with feeling chastised. He let his heart be ruled by Pride that raged with all things ugly, rather than talking with his teacher and learning the ways of Love.
… It’s when I forget that I am loved – taught and disciplined by Love itself – that I settle for less than His best for me.
Lord, only you were the perfect lamb offering, and nothing except my very life and heart are what you truly want…but Cain’s lesson still rings true. Your way is always the best way, and I want be teachable. I want to know you so well – and your unchanging love for me – that I’m not afraid of You or Your carefully designed lessons for me. Ever.