I want to spend a couple of weeks on this verse. It’s all about love – being able to give it, and being able to receive it. Operating in the love of God, resting in His love, sharing His love with the people in your sphere of influence…. Our faith works by love (Galatians 5:6), so let’s explore a little about love!
“In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:10-12 NKJV)
Let’s just take a quick look at Cain and Abel – y’all know I can’t resist a history lesson 🙂 We’ll circle back!
“Then Eve bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering.” (Genesis 4:3-5 NKJV)
A few things to notice:
Cain made an offering of the fruit of the ground. Abel made an offering of an animal. On the surface, that may not look like it was a lesser gift. Cain was a farmer, and Abel was a herdsman – so one offered fruit and the other offered an animal – big deal?
The big deal is that the offerings were not equal. The Bible says Cain offered “fruit of the ground”. The Bible could have said, “Abel offered an animal” – if he had only offered an animal. However, Abel’s offering was described as “of his flock”, but Cain’s offering did not say it came “of his harvest”. This may have been a wild fruit that he didn’t even grow.
Moses specified that Abel’s offering was a firstborn. Again, Cain’s offering isn’t specified as a firstfruit, and when you take a look at the rest of Moses’ writings, he does use a word in other places that is means firstfruit. It’s a different word – when you translate it back, there’s a word for fruit and there’s a different word for firstfruit. There was definite significance to the first in scripture.
Abel’s offering was a firstborn and all their fat – fat here signifies the best, the richest, the choicest.
Cain’s wasn’t a firstfruit offering. To be honest, this fruit might not have even come from his own harvest. Cain’s was an offering which cost him nothing. Abel brought the best he had to the Lord, and apparently Cain picked a few wild fruits and called it a day.
Their offerings were not the same – but the Lord wasn’t looking for the same in value (never that, even today). He was (and still is) looking for the same level of sacrifice. When you read the Old Testament, take every opportunity to apply the character of the God you know today to the God of the Old Testament – He’s exactly the same, yesterday, today and forever. When it seems harsh, take a deeper look. Let’s move on, because we’re about to see a little more character revealed – both God’s and Cain’s.
“And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” (Genesis 4:5-7 NKJV)
When God called Cain out, Cain was angry, but his anger was displaced. Before he even spoke a word, the Lord read his heart: “Why are you angry? If you do well, won’t you be accepted?” I think God is saying to Cain, “Hey – you don’t have anything to be angry about, Abel’s offering didn’t have anything to do with you. I’m not comparing gifts – if you had done well, you would have been accepted too.”
Cain took Abel’s offering to a place it didn’t have to go. I think that God is gracious enough here, and Cain could have said, “Lord, you’re right and I’m sorry. Here’s a firstfruit from my harvest” and I think God would have accepted it. He could have accepted God’s question in the way it was meant: as a correction and opportunity to get back on track. Cain didn’t go that way, though.
We can displace our emotions at times, too, can’t we? Have you ever been angry at a person or a situation that really didn’t affect you? We’ve all been there, but it isn’t necessary. Comparison is a trap, and everyone loses. Cain compared his gift to Abel’s gift (even though the gifts were not at all the same). Cain also compared God’s response to him with God’s response to Abel (even though the response to the gifts were not at all the same). It was a moment for personal reflection, and Cain decided that there was only one way to bring himself higher, and that was to push his brother lower.
Have we had similar thoughts as well? Lord, please help us. Let’s continue this next week, find out what Cain did do with his displaced emotion, and talk about how we can avoid the same trap.
What’s the treasure today? It’s knowing that God loves you as you, and doesn’t compare you to anyone or expect you to be like anyone else. Praying you can be confident in His incomparable love for you today! ❤