In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
(Genesis 4:4-5, NIV)
A few days ago, I woke up from an unusual dream. It was a dream about the story of Cain and Abel. I asked God to reveal to me why I dreamt this story. It’s not one I know well so I decided to go to the Bible and read it again. As I was reading, I discovered that Cain, the first human born, was not much different than many people today. He had a spirit of anger, which created jealousy and competition; leading him to murder his younger brother. As the story goes, Cain worked in the fields planting and harvesting crops while Abel became a shepherd. As they worked, they decided to give offerings to God to show their gratitude. The Bible tells us Cain offered “some of the fruits” while Abel offered “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.” When Cain presented God with only some of his harvest, He was not pleased. He was pleased with Abel for offering the “fat portion” of the firstborn of his flock.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you 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 rule over it.
(Genesis 4:6-7, NIV)
The story of Cain and Abel teaches us that our attitude matters to God. After God spoke to Cain about his attitude, Cain took out his anger on his brother. He took Abel for a walk in the fields and murdered him. When Cain killed his brother, his punishment was to be exiled to the east of Eden, like his parents, and to be hidden from the presence of the Lord. He died a spiritual death when he committed the sin of killing his brother. Yet even Cain’s exile reflects God’s mercy. Despite our weaknesses and sinful nature, God is a God of grace and second chances. He allowed Cain to start a new life in a different place and marked him to prevent him from being killed by others.
What can we do when faced with feelings of jealousy and competition? We can turn to Scripture to be reminded of God’s love. Ask Him to calm your thoughts and open your heart to peace, comfort, and wisdom. Trust that He will protect you and keep His promise to strengthen you in your time of weakness. When faced with feelings of insecurity, jealousy, or rage, turn to the Lord, instead of taking matters in your own hands.
Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.