When it comes to the story of Cain & Abel, there’s always been a part of me that felt bad for Cain and really identified with him. Why was God so picky? Does God not like vegetables either? Or is something else going on here? When we look at Genesis 4:1-16 and read the story, we find God saying this to Cain:
“Why are you so angry? Why is your face downcast? 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 master it.”
In Junior High Youth Group I read the story I had students act the story out while I read. One of our guys, Joe, played the part of Cain, and I think he did a great job capturing the role: when I read about Cain and Abel presenting their offerings Joe said something like this, “You showoff, just throw some stuff on the altar and you’ll be fine!” I think that exactly what Cain’s attitude was like.
Cain lived for himself. He did not take God’s warning seriously. Instead of obeying God, he murdered his brother and was banished because he was so consumed by bitterness and hatred.
It’s obvious to say “Cain did NOT finish strong,” but it’s far more difficult to admit that we are so often guilty of the same bitterness and hatred that led Cain to crash and burn. We need to be honest enough to ask ourselves some tough questions:
- Do I really put God first, Others second, and Myself third? Practice J.O.Y. = Jesus, Others, You!
- When was the last time I sacrificed what I wanted so I could bless someone else?
- How do I respond when I don’t get my way?
- Do I treat my faith as casually as Cain treated his offering, thinking “This is just fine… God’s not too picky!”
If you want to finish strong then put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself third.