Lord, Your Word is a light that guides me to righteousness. Plant Your Word in my heart so that I will grow in faith and grace.
Read Genesis 4:1–16
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel” (Phil. 1:3–5a). This is God’s way for relationships.
Outside the garden we are immediately presented with evidence that the disruption in relationships between human beings wasn’t restricted to male-female links. I get on well with both my brother and my sister, but most of us with siblings will have memories of childhood times when “it’s not fair” was a constant watchword! Why is he allowed to stay up longer? Why are my jobs harder than hers? (Well, maybe because he is two years older and she is two years younger!) Cain’s jealousy of his younger brother just ate away at him. There are lots of questions that arise in this chapter about, for example, other inhabitants of the land. The writer was probably aware of these ambiguities but focuses not on these but on ongoing concerns about responsibility and accountability. The rejection of Cain’s offering had nothing to do with Abel. The account does not go into detail, but verses 3 and 4 imply that the problem was this: whereas Abel brought “fat portions from some of the firstborn” of the flock he looked after, Cain merely brought “some of the fruits” of his labors. The approval given to Abel in no way prevented or replaced approval that might have been given to Cain. Verse 7 is clear. If Cain changes his attitude and behavior, he will also be accepted. Instead, however, Cain gives vent to his jealous anger. He kills Abel and then denies any responsibility. “How should I know where Abel is: he is the shepherd, not me!” In the post-garden world, however, responsibility and accountability for human actions remain. Cain, because of his actions and apparently partly by his choice, “went out from the Lord’s presence” (16).
How would you assess the way you handle anger? Where might God be looking on your life with favor? With disfavor?
Father, forgive me for the times when I turn against other people because of my own failures; help me to recognize my responsibility to be “my brother’s keeper” (9).