Genesis 4:1-8 A blessed life begins with a soul that is forgiven
Genesis 4:1-8 A blessed life begins with a soul that is forgiven
Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.” 2 Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” 8 Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
Life outside of the garden harsh as it is does not see God’s grace and presence diminished in any way. God gives much needed grace for every facet of life, work and childbirth. The generation after Adam and Eve sees the continual battle between the seed of the righteous and the seed of evil. Both exhibit differing traits as evident by their attitude towards God in their worship and works. Today’s devotion teaches us that man’s relationship with God determines the direction of his life. A blessed life begins with a soul that is forgiven by God.
Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain…
Life outside the garden of Eden though harsh and unyielding as it is, is not without God’s grace and His presence. Despite a difficult childbirth, Eve gives birth to Cain and Abel: “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord”. Cain chooses the vocation of a farmer to till the ground, and Abel becomes a keeper of cattle. God continues to cause the ground to yield vegetation as food for man and for the flocks. Uncannily, the brothers’ names foreshadow their respective lives: Cain (to acquire, possess), and Abel (a fleeting breath).
So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground.
The two brothers bring a tribute (offering) to the Lord with their respective fruits of their labour. The tribute is an expression of respect from a creature towards the Creator in a form of a gift; not any gift, but a gift of highest quality that adequately expresses the heart of gratitude and honour. Detailed observation of the text reveals between the brothers a gap in the quality of their respective offerings. Cain brings “an offering”. There is here no indication that these are the first and the best. Abel, in contrast brings “the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions” that speaks of God’s supreme place in his life. Cain’s offering reveals his lack of gratitude and respect towards God. He seems religious, but does not trust God as the Provider, neither is he grateful towards God for what he possesses.
And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.
As expected, the brothers get very different treatment from God in accordance to the posture of their hearts; God responds favourably towards Abel but critically towards Cain. The Lord’s words, “Why are you angry?” suggests that Cain possesses consciousness of what is right and wrong and already knows the consequence of wrong doing. “If you do well” refers to Cain’s heart posture towards God as evident by his token offering. However, God gives Cain a very pointed warning; His unbecoming attitude towards God (if you do not do well) will soon be the cause of his utter deprivation and downfall. First, it is his lack of respect towards God which degenerates into envy. God forewarns Cain to master it before it quickly becomes full blown murder. As we know it, the desire of envy overcomes Cain causing him to commit the first murder in human history.
Even as God disciplines His people, His grace remains active and undiminished.
Nothing in the text indicates that God’s grace and presence outside the garden has in any way diminished. The ground continues to yield vegetation for food, and man continues to procreate albeit greater efforts are required. God’s guidance and presence continue to be manifested through His direct conversations with Cain. Therefore, God’s discipline over His people is never meant to punish as evident by His continual grace and presence.
Many churchgoers because of the church’s excessive emphasis on salvation and blessings, have come to perceive divine discipline and suffering as a sign of God’s diminished grace and presence. Hence, when they encounter protracted difficulties, they either accept their circumstance as a necessary evil or relegate it as a punishment from God. Instead of upholding God’s grace by reading the word and worship, they degenerate into passiveness and unbelief.
Although some discipline and hardships are avoidable, others are ordained by God to test and refine believers’ character towards perfection. Nevertheless, all of life’s challenges are not meant to defeat, but to refine us towards His likeness. Hence, in whatever circumstances, we must believe that God’s grace is not only present but sufficient for every difficulty. The apostle Paul, while in occasions of being buffeted by the agent of Satan is assured by God towards eventual victory – And God has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Paul does not lie down passively while waiting for it to blow over. He actively fills up the measure of his weakness with God’s overcoming grace. Therefore, believers must be diligent in upholding God’s conduit of grace by meditating on His word daily and to continually saturate themselves with the Spirit’s love and peace.
A soul forgiven is the beginning of a blessed life.
Cain fails in his relationship with God. And because he fails in his relationship with God, he fails in his worship. And eventually, he fails in all his endeavours. Cain does not regard God as supreme, he does not love His ways, neither is he grateful for His grace and provisions. In fact, he sees God primarily as a means to possess and to fulfil his personal desires. As for Abel, his relationship with God is one of reverence and gratitude. As evident by his manner of worship, he reveres God as Creator and loves His ways. At the same time, he is grateful for God’s forgiveness having been redeemed by His mercies. Hence, God views him favourably and blesses him in all his endeavours.
From the story of Cain and Abel, we observe that one’s relationship with God invariably affect his life direction, worship and works. Without achieving clarity in this area, all of life’s endeavours begin to breakdown. Without experiencing God’s forgiveness, man is forced to contend with guilt and hatred that never seems to go away. This is evident in the politics of the Middle East and the feuding tribes of Africa. Unless man comes face to face with his darkness and receive divine forgiveness there will be no enduring peace and prosperity.
Yet we see many churchgoers worshiping God and doing good works without understanding what they are doing. They, in repeating the error of Cain suppose that God is desperate for their offerings that cost them nothing. And by feeding Him with their incessantly loud singing and meager gifts, they hope to coax Him into blessing them. They praise God when times are good but secretly grumbled against Him when times are bad. Their relationship with God is not built on love for the truth, but by the prospect of salvation and greater blessings. The purest expression of worship comes in the form of offering of first fruits or tithes. Yet many quietly dispensed with their tithes hoping that God will not notice. Still, many participate in various ministries not out of love but as a means to transact with God. Such serve with half heartedness, always quarrelling and not being able to take the slightest criticism for their shoddy work. As result, many of them left the faith becoming disgruntled that their work is not “appreciated” or “valued”.
Therefore, it is paramount that the believer’s works and worship must necessarily flow out of a soul whose sins are forgiven. What are the traits that must accompany a soul that is forgiven? (See the figure below).
a. Gratitude – Being thankful always for the things he possesses and treasures them as opposed to seeking after things he does not possess. Such a person is contented, being continually filled with love, peace, and joy whose kindness is in abundant supply.
b. A holy discontent for righteousness – to always strive to do better and in being more like Christ in His virtues. His joy comes from the approval of God who judges His heart and the quality of His work.
Therefore, it is natural for the blessed to always count their blessings and to worship God with gratitude, and to serve as Christ serves while not expecting anything in return.
What motivates you in your service towards others? Are you seeking a place of importance while despising the menial and rigorous tasks? Take responsibility for the wellbeing of your church and your community by volunteering for more demanding and unpopular tasks. And God will let your righteousness shine on the day of Judgement. Jesus teaches,
“But whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45
Do you stint on tithes and offerings because of greed and the love of money? Cain is given little regard because of his unbelief. Come before God and be reconciled with him through faith and repentance. If it is because of lack, let us take authority to break the hindrances that come against your finances. Look for your pastor or for one who is able to advise you with work skills that is necessary for you to emerge from your circumstances.
Dear Lord, I believe your body that is sacrificed and the blood that flowed is able to break the curses and the hindrances that come against me. Forgive me also for my unbelief as I put my complete trust in you who alone is my Provider. I endeavour to fulfil my full tithe towards your church as my tribute and honour towards your name. Use me as vessel to serve your people out of pure compassion and to alleviate the sufferings of the poor. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.