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 4:7 NLT
Many of us live with hidden resentments. Things have been done to us, said to us, said about us, and we are twisted-up inside. So what do we do about it? In some situations, very healthy ones, we can address the injustice or the wrong, and get it straightened out. But in many situations, that is just not possible. Think about Cain and Abel. Cain had the idea to give God an offering and Abel, little brother, copied him. But Abel’s offering was accepted and Cain’s was rejected! It’s not fair! We can make some suggestions why this happened, but the Bible doesn’t explain it. So what did do? He hugged his resentment to his heart until it boiled over into murder. Our resentments might not go that far, but the results inside of us can be as deadly.
Where did Cain fail to master the sin that was crouching at his door? He had three opportunities and he muffed them. First, he could have chosen praise over self-pity. He could have thanked God for showing him what an acceptable sacrifice is. But no, he clutched to himself that feeling that he had been unfairly treated. In every unfair situation there is something for which to praise God and get your focus off poor you.
Second, Cain could have chosen prayer over self-absorption. I was once eaten up over something nasty and uncalled-for that had been said to me. I was totally focused on my own pain. I asked God to take my resentment away. God had the nerve to ask me to pray for that fellow! I didn’t like it, but I did, and I found my whole attitude changed as I found compassion for a man whose life must have been so hard.
Finally, Cain could have chosen presentation over self-justification. We love the feeling of having been right. But God asks us to surrender the whole situation to him, including our feelings of having been wronged. But wait! If I just let it go, what will I have left? As long as I hold onto it I will have the satisfaction of knowing they were wrong and I was right. Just give it up to God and forgive them? What will I have left? Freedom? Health? Hope? Yes.