Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. – Galatians 6:4
2 When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground.
3 When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the LORD.
4 Abel also brought a gift – the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift,
5 but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.
6 “Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected?”
7 “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.”
8 One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.
9 Afterward the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” “I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
On January 6, 1994, during a practice session for the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed by an assailant on the right knee with a baton. The man was hired by Tonya Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and his friend, Shawn Eckardt.
The incident, which became known as “the whack” heard around the world, left Kerrigan’s hopes of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team in jeopardy.
Harding said she and Kerrigan were “competitors, yes. rivals, no.” Uh-huh! Did Tonya Harding have envy issues? Do you think? Just eliminate the competition and everything will be okay.
Envy is a form of emotional bondage which is self-destructive and often damaging to others. If we care to admit it, many of us have an ugly habit of comparing ourselves with others. All too often, making such comparisons often does not turn out well. Rather than counting our own blessings, envy stirs us to jealously look at the blessings of others. When we come up short, displeasure, anger, and hatred are aroused. Things escalate from there. So, it was with Tonya Harding.
Where did this begin? It began with Cain the very first human baby born on planet Earth. He was envious of his brother Abel, why? Both of the brothers offered gifts to the Father. The Lord accepted Abel’s gift but rejected Cain’s. Why? Genesis does not say, however, Hebrews sheds light.
Hebrews 11:4 It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.
Abel offered his gift by faith. His gift demonstrated that he was a righteous man. Cain was not. “Cain wasn’t rejected because of his offering, but his offering was rejected because of Cain: his heart wasn’t right with God. It was ‘by faith’ that Abel offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, which means that he had faith in God and was right with God” (Wiersbe). Outward actions motivated by an evil heart are unacceptable. The Father rejected Cain’s offering because of the condition of Cain’s heart. Indeed, Abel speaks to us today as an example of faith lived out.
Cain’s lack of faith got the better of him. Cain’s envy became a lethal rage and Cain murdered Abel. The Father has a commandment that covers this issue.
Exodus 20:17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
When a person covets, an overwhelming desire for that which others have builds up. Coveting incentivizes deceit, theft, and even murder. What we desire most, we worship. When we put our coveted things before our devotion to the Father, it is idolatry.
REFLECT & PRAY
Jeremiah 17:9 The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
Father, my heart is prone to evil. It is so easy to be deceived by sin which crouches at the door of my heart. Encourage me to think and do right.
The Genesis story focuses on Cain’s response to the Father accepting Abel’s gift and rejecting his. Cain’s response exposes his evil heart. From the darkness of his heart, Cain was enraged at the Father and his brother. “Cain was so angry he would not be talked out of his sin – even by God” (Ross).
If we abide wrong heart motives, any efforts to please the Father are at best wishful thinking, at worse delusional vanity.
1 John 3:12 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.
The Father explained to Cain that obedience brings blessing, but Cain allowed his envy and resentment to get the best of him and his anger led to murder. He chose to not do what was right but allowed sin to control him.
Genesis 4:7 “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.”
Sin is envisioned as a vicious, relentless beast. It crouches in the shadows waiting to pounce.
The Hebrew word translated as crouching is rabats. It is a word picture of an animal lying in wait to ambush, lurking, behaving in a sneaky and secretive manner.
The Hebrew word translated control is teshuqah. Teshuqah frequently means to desire, to crave, to long for, to dominate, of a beast to devour. Here it is ramped up a bit and has the sense to desire to control. Personified sin desires to control Cain. Rather than resist, he gives in and fratricide is the bloody consequence.
After the evil deed was done the Father came calling. He asked pointedly about Abel. The Father wasn’t seeking information. He already knew. He was allowing Cain an opportunity to come clean and confess.
Genesis 4:9 Afterward the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” “I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The Father’s question strikes at the heart of the matter. Cain was curt, cold, uncaring, and sarcastic. He lied and refused to take responsibility.
Cain had a choice. He could allow sin to dominate and control him or he takes control and masters sin. The outcome is totally in his hands.
The same is true for each child of the King.
2 thoughts on “Comparisons ∙”
Dr. H made an observation some time ago that has helped me in my personal struggles with resisting sin’s domination: “He [Jesus] chose to depend upon the Father’s strength rather than His own. He resisted AS A MAN in complete dependence upon the Father. If this is indeed the correct way to understand this, then WE CAN BE JUST LIKE JESUS. We can depend on the Father’s strength and not our own.”
That is the clear teaching of the gospel of John. All that the Lord Jesus Christ did, He did as a man depended upon the Father. He never exercised His divine attributes.
Hebrews restates this concept in plain words.
Hebrews 4:15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.
And recall that he separated himself from the use of His divine attributes in the process of becoming truly human in taking upon Himself the form of man.
6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Therefore we are to have the same attitude as He did.
Philippians 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,