Cain and Abel – the brotherhood that didn’t work out!
Cain was the firstborn of the family, and Eve was fascinated with him. Anyone with a first child can probably relate. She looked at Cain, counted all his fingers and toes, noticed every little finger had a proper fingernail, looked at his face and detected family resemblance. Proudly she turned to Adam and exclaimed (Genesis 4:1):
“With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man!”
Eve gave birth to more children, but Cain remained the special someone, the first kid she ever had. Firstborn status in the Middle East was bound to give preferential status to the eldest son.
Adam and Eve taught their kids from an early age to express their thankfulness to God by bringing choice gifts. As Cain grew up, he became a farmer. When it was time to offer his gift, he brought a selection of his produce. Meanwhile his brother Abel had learned to take care of his father’s flocks and herds. He brought one of the most promising looking specimens of his flock.
It is unclear how God’s favor materialized, but at the end of the day Abel’s gift stood out, while Cain’s gift was not well received at all – and Cain was not smiling! His frustration was written all over his face, and the relationship to his brother quickly soured. God addressed the issue at hand with Cain (Genesis 4:6-7):
“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.”
Cain obviously had his mind already made up because he refused to listen. Soon after, he killed his brother in cold blood.
This is the incident John was referring to in his letter. He wrote (1 John 3:12):
Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.
Comparing Cain with Abel is a puzzling affair since none of the brothers neglected to offer gifts to the Almighty. What makes Cain’s gift so undesirable? In order to answer this question we have to dig a little deeper – past appearances!
Reality check is asking ourselves why we do what we do. Doing the right thing has everything to do with right intentions. We all know how wrong motives can be harmful. Certainly no good comes out of hatred. Love on the other hand puts everything into the right perspective. And love must have been the overriding factor that initiated Abel’s gift, while Cain’s gift was probably motivated by something less worthy.
There are all kinds of wrong reasons to give gifts, however, God is only interested in gifts given for the right reasons. So in all we do or don’t do today, let’s remember: love is king!