Last week I talked about Adam and Eve’s thirst for what they couldn’t have, if you missed it, catch up with us here. This week I’m going to be talking about their sons.
“…on Cain and his offering He [God] did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast.” Genesis 4:5
Nothing drives someone more than jealousy. Whether it’s the good ‘ole and all too familiar sibling rivalry, or something else. In almost every family you’ll find some kind of jealousy: child-child, parent-parent, child-parent, or even parent-child. Whether it’s the out-going, active, sports enthusiast child against the intellectual, band geek, or if it’s the slacker against the suck up. If you’re in a family chances are that you’ve experienced such rivalry.
What exactly drives one to feel the need to compete with others? Is it our own selfish desire for attention? Or what about the thirst for attention? Or could it be both? I think so.
If you’ve ever read the story of Cain and Able, you’ve heard the first-ever recorded instant in which sibling rivalry took place. You’ve read about the first time jealousy overwhelmed someone to the point of hurting another person. If you haven’t read it, I’d encourage you to do so, you can read it here. After reading this passage, think about it, what would you had done if you would have been in Cain’s shoes?
Cain takes his fleshly thirst for favor and acceptance into his own hands. I can see him thinking, or perhaps even saying, “I’l show that goody-too-shoes brother of mine what happens when you cross your brother like that…” Jealousy so deep that it leads to anger. Anger so great that it leads to rage. Rage that became so overwhelming that he gave into his urge to “take care” of his problem.
But why? Why doesn’t Cain just use this as a chance to get better? To put his entire heart into it next time? Why doesn’t Cain just walk away and give himself time to cool off? It doesn’t seem like it would be so hard. My guess is that this was a reqeated scenerio. That this situation was the one that pushed Cain over the edge.
So, do you have a relationship that brings about a jealousy or rivalry that leads you to war with that person? Boy, I have. Not only do I have just one sibling, I have four. Three of which are sisters. My ENTIRE life has been spent comparing my actions/possessions/accomplishments against theirs. If it wasn’t comparing our lives it was warring over which was better, who was the better child, who deserved this or that more.
How about with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Have you ever found yourself competing, fighting, and begging for God’s favor over someone you feel is a threat in your spiritual life? If I’m guilty of this offense too.
So What can we do? How can we keep ourselves from repeating Cain’s mistake of allowing his thirst of favor to prevent us from allowing our jealousy to over come us in the way his did? How can we decide to allow these differences to shape us rather than drive us?
My idea would be to begin my praying and thanking God for that challenging relationship. Thank Him for our differences and ask Him to help us see what we can learn from them, rather than trying to one up their actions. Secondly, instead of looking for ways that we don’t measure up to others, why not look for our own God-given strengths and gifts and start to use them? Lastly, find a friend to confide in, or even a journal and the days you’re feeling like you’re slipping down the slippery slope, write, write your heart out and write out a prayer about it too. You’d be amazed at how much this helps.
I know, I know. Some of you may be thinking, “but Amy, I wouldn’t ever dream of killing so and so…” This may be true but don’t forget in Matthew we are told that if we pass judgement, or ridicule on one of our siblings, biological or spiritual, then we are just as guilty as Cain.
So this week, rather than doing things to earn favor or one up those around us in efforts to earn God’s attention and approval, why don’t we try to love those siblings that it’s oh so easy to despise. Why do this? The better question is probably why not do this? If we do this we are extending the same love and grace the God extends to us everyday. Then, maybe our little piece of the world will be just a little sweeter.
Blessings, love and grace over this next week!