Cain and Abel – the brotherhood that didn’t work out!
Cain was her firstborn, and Eve was fascinated with him. Anyone with a first baby can probably relate. She looked at Cain, counted all his fingers and toes, took note of every little detail about him, looked at his face and detected family resemblance. Proudly she turned to Adam and exclaimed (Genesis 4:1):
“She said, ‘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 child she ever had.
As Cain grew up, he became a farmer while his brother Abel learned to take care of his father’s flocks and herds. Adam and Eve taught their sons and daughters from an early age to express their thankfulness to God by bringing choice gifts. When the time came to offer his gift to God, Cain brought a selection of his produce while His brother Abel 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 – and Cain was not smiling! His frustration was written all over his face, and the relationship to his brother quickly turned sour. God immediately addressed the issue 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.’”
Unfortunately, Cain had his mind already made up and refused to listen. Soon after, he killed his brother in cold blood.
This is the incident the apostle 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 means asking ourselves why we do what we do. Doing the right thing has everything to do with having the right intentions. We all know how wrong motives can be harmful. Absolutely no good comes out of hatred. Love on the other hand makes everything better. And love must have been the overriding factor that enabled Abel’s gift, while Cain’s gift was probably motivated by something less worthy.
There are all kinds of wrong reasons to give gifts, but it is important to realize that God is only interested in gifts given for the right reasons. Love is the determining factor. Love rules.