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Cain's Jealousy

Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, and author of Biblical Prayer for Today's Believers: Transform Your Prayer Life (available on Amazon).

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To get the most out of the devotional, (1) read the Scripture passage being discussed, (2) read the commentary, (3) answer the questions on the comments section or a personal journal, (4) discuss the questions with your home group, and (5) email feedback, questions, testimony, or topic request at marcelocarcach@outlook.com.

The First Murder

Cain and Abel by James Tissot

Cain and Abel by James Tissot

An Old Story in Genesis

Read Genesis 4:1-16

The Bible tells us that Adam and Eve became intimate after they were driven out of God’s garden. Cain was born first, and Abel was born second. Seth was born when Adam was one hundred and thirty years old. Adam then had other sons and daughters, and he died when he was nine hundred and thirty years old (see Genesis 4:1-2, 5:1-5). Genesis does not mention many details about Eve, so we don’t even know if she was Adam’s only wife throughout his lifetime.

The story of Cain and Abel is well known. Cain, a farmer, brought God an offering of crops; and Abel, a shepherd, brought God an animal sacrifice. God accepted Abel’s offering, but he did not accept Cain’s offering. This made Cain terribly jealous.

Cain’s everyday facial expression changed. Now there was anger in his eyes. He probably chose to spend his time alone: away from his family, and away from God. It is likely that he spent his lonely times ruminating over the moment when God rejected his offering, and the joy on Abel’s expression when God accepted his offering. Eventually, Cain began to think of ways to make himself feel better, and ways to get back at Abel and at God.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever been so angry that you destroyed a relationship or your reputation through a bad choice? Have you ever felt so jealous and angry that you entertained dark, murderous thoughts? These are the kind of emotions Can was dealing with, real emotions and pain, like what we experience in our lives.

Have you noticed that this is the kind of stuff that’s going on in many young people’s lives today? This is what we read about in the news when we hear that a young person started shooting innocent people in a movie theater, in a mall, or in a school. They have been nourishing resentment and harboring murderous thoughts, and eventually they came to the point when they carried them out.

Beware jealousy, resentment, and anger. These are powerful emotions that can lead people to hurt others and do things they will regret, things from which there is no return.

God knew what was going on in Cain’s heart. Of course, God could have stopped Cain at any time, but he didn’t because he gives everyone freedom to choose, and because he committed the Earth to humanity’s care. Adam and Eve thought we could successfully rule the world without God, but history has proven them wrong.

But God did reach out to Cain, as he reaches out to every one of us. We can often hear God’s voice in our conscience. He appeals to our sense of right and wrong, he appeals to our emotions, and he appeals to our reason. He seeks to convince us that the path we are choosing is wrong. “Cain,” God said, “why are you angry? Why are feeling this way?” God first spoke to Cain’s on an emotional level.

Apparently, God got Cain’s attention. Though still very angry, Cain was now listening. So God proceeded to give Cain the explanation he wanted: why did God reject Cain’s offering? God seems to have said, “The reason, Cain, is that you only gave me crops, but you didn’t give me your heart.”

Cain wanted God’s blessing in his life, so he brought a sacrifice to God. But Cain did not want to conform his life to God’s will; he lacked true repentance. Instead, he wanted to live his life independently from God. This becomes clear when God tells him that he would have accepted his offering if his works were good (cf. Genesis 4:7). The Apostle John also gives us this same interpretation (See 1 John 3:12).

The same thing happens today to many people who attend church. They go to church religiously on Sunday mornings, because that is what “good” people do, because that’s the way they were raised, and because that’s part of their culture. They are used to going to church. But when they go back home, they lead their lives however they want, without regard to God’s will for their lives. They are adulterers, promiscuous, drunkards, full of hate, and blasphemous—and they don’t bother with pursuing repentance, holiness, and a close relationship with God.

If you are one of those people, you need to confess your sins and make a conscious decision to pursue living for Jesus instead of living to enjoy your sins.

God then gave Cain insight into his spiritual condition. “Cain, you’re a prisoner of your emotions, and sin is a monster ready to devour you at any moment. You need to escape!” How could Cain have escaped? All Cain needed to do was to confess his sins to God, and to ask God for help. Sadly, Cain did not surrender to God. Instead, he walked away, schemed, and eventually killed his brother.

Unfortunately, there are many people making the same mistake. God is speaking to their hearts through their conscience, but instead they are turning their back on God and choosing to do what they feel like doing. They don’t realize that the end of their path is pain and destruction for them and those around them, even those whom they love.

We all need to beware the monsters in our lives: not just jealousy, but all manner of sins. As you reflect on your own life (your daily activities, the topics of your conversations, the thoughts you entertain, your spiritual disciplines), would you say that you are displaying true repentance and a sincere desire to have a meaningful relationship with God, or are you rejecting him and disregarding his will for your life? I encourage you to take time today to confess your sins and seek his forgiveness today.

Reflect and Discuss

  1. Are you struggling in your life with a negative feeling like anger, resentment, or jealousy? Why do you feel that way? What will happen if you do not overcome those feelings?
    What can you in order to obtain God’s help to overcome these emotions? What does God want you to do?
  2. Would you say that you are displaying true repentance and a sincere desire to have a meaningful relationship with God, or are you displaying rejection and disregard toward him?
  3. How do you feel about surrendering your life God? Are you willing to confess your sins to him, ask him to forgive you, and ask him to take away these negative emotions that are in your heart? Why?

© 2015 Marcelo Carcach