Cain and Abel

“Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”                       Genesis 4:6-7 NLT

What was it that killed Abel? It was resentment. Cain had had a good idea of giving a present to God. His little brother copied him and for reasons that are not explained, Abel’s gift was accepted, and Cain’s was not. We can hear Cain saying what we have all said at one time or another, “It’s not fair!” And our mothers have responded, “Honey, life’s not fair.”

Well, it’s true. There is much about life that just doesn’t seem right. In this instance, we can guess that Abel’s offering was accepted because it involved blood. There is no remission of sin apart from the shedding of blood, the Scripture says, and the biggest, orangest pumpkin in the world can’t die for what I have done. I don’t think either Cain or Abel understood that. It was supposed to be a teaching moment.

But Cain couldn’t buy it. All he knew was that from his point of view, his stupid little brother had gotten what he should have had. Here is the moment for you and me. Something has happened to us that should not have, at least by our estimate. What will we do with it? God says to us as he said to Cain, “Let it go. Hang onto it, and sin will be in your living room. It’s at the door now, but you don’t have to let it in.” “But it’s not right,” we say. Alright, so it wasn’t. Will hugging our hurt to our breast make it right? No! In fact, Jesus has already taken that hurt, all the hurts, into himself. Why should you keep on carrying it when he already has? Offer your resentment up to God as a stinking whole burnt offering. Amazingly, it will smell good to him.

If you won’t, here is the bad news. At a minimum, that resentment will corrode your soul, eating up your joy, and corrupting whatever is clean in you. But worse, much worse, it can build to the point where you cannot contain it anymore, and it will burst out in murder. Oh, maybe not physical murder, like Cain, but murder just the same. Resentment kills; it kills families, it kills businesses, it kills churches. Sin is crouching at your door and mine, but by the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be its master. Praise God!

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