Our hearts are a well spring from which flows our thoughts and ultimate behaviors. God knows our hearts better than we know our hearts. The quicker we understand this ‘knowing” the more we will grow in God’s character and bear the fruits of His Holy Spirit which are listed in Galatians 5; “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” As believers who strive to follow Jesus, we have His power working in us to develop the character of the One who made us in His image, bearing this fruit that lasts for eternity.
Adam and Eve have now passed on the ability to sin of their youth to one of their sons, Cain. Cain’s heart is not like his brother, Abel. God sees right through us to our hearts. Abel brings an offering to God and God accepts it as good and right. Cain brings an offering from his work efforts but his heart is not in the giving. God sees that and does not approve. Abel does well. Cain does not do well.
Cain validates the condition of his heart by sulking, replaying the situation, while anger rises within him to the point of killing his brother. All the characteristics of a heart that is not seeking the heart of God yields the fruits of a different, evil spirit. The list can also be found in Galatians 5 for reference; “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.”
We don’t know exactly what was in Cain’s heart, only God knows. But it seems, between the two brothers, Cain was jealous which led to hostility with outbursts of anger which led to his brother’s death. God’s disapproval may have been the “tipping point” for Cain who had a “heart condition” that was not well. Cain then lies to God about the murder! Sin gives birth to more sin.
We might be asking ourselves; Did the unapproved offering lead to murder? Or was Cain’s heart not right to begin with before giving the offering? Was this God’s way of helping Cain see who or what was seriously and truthfully ruling his heart?
God speaks. God acts according with what He knows. God knows everything. This is the story of God and how His created relate to Him—or not. Read, Think, Pray and Live what we learn from Genesis 4…
Genesis 4, The Message
Adam slept with Eve his wife. She conceived and had Cain. She said, “I’ve gotten a man, with God’s help!”
2 Then she had another baby, Abel. Abel was a herdsman and Cain a farmer.
3-5 Time passed. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn’t get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk.
6-7 God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.”
8 Cain had words with his brother. They were out in the field; Cain came at Abel his brother and killed him.
9 God said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”
He said, “How should I know? Am I his babysitter?”
10-12 God said, “What have you done! The voice of your brother’s blood is calling to me from the ground. From now on you’ll get nothing but curses from this ground; you’ll be driven from this ground that has opened its arms to receive the blood of your murdered brother. You’ll farm this ground, but it will no longer give you its best. You’ll be a homeless wanderer on Earth.”
13-14 Cain said to God, “My punishment is too much. I can’t take it! You’ve thrown me off the land and I can never again face you. I’m a homeless wanderer on Earth and whoever finds me will kill me.”
15 God told him, “No. Anyone who kills Cain will pay for it seven times over.” God put a mark on Cain to protect him so that no one who met him would kill him.
16 Cain left the presence of God and lived in No-Man’s-Land, east of Eden.
17-18 Cain slept with his wife. She conceived and had Enoch. He then built a city and named it after his son, Enoch.
Enoch had Irad,
Irad had Mehujael,
Mehujael had Methushael,
Methushael had Lamech.
19-22 Lamech married two wives, Adah and Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal, the ancestor of all who live in tents and herd cattle. His brother’s name was Jubal, the ancestor of all who play the lyre and flute. Zillah gave birth to Tubal-Cain, who worked at the forge making bronze and iron tools. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah.
23-24 Lamech said to his wives,
Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
you wives of Lamech, hear me out:
I killed a man for wounding me,
a young man who attacked me.
If Cain is avenged seven times,
for Lamech it’s seventy-seven!
25-26 Adam slept with his wife again. She had a son whom she named Seth. She said, “God has given me another child in place of Abel whom Cain killed.” And then Seth had a son whom he named Enosh.
That’s when men and women began praying and worshiping in the name of God.
Eugene Peterson, The Message, in his introduction to Genesis writes;
“Genesis gets us off on the right foot. Genesis pulls us into a sense of reality that is God-shaped and God-filled. It gives us a vocabulary for speaking accurately and comprehensively about our lives, where we come from and where we are going, what we think and what we do, the people we live with and how to get along with them. The troubles we find ourselves in and the blessings that keep arriving.”
“Genesis uses words to make a foundation that is solid and true. Everything we think and do and feel is material in a building operation in which we are engaged all our life long. There is immense significance in everything that we do. Our speech and our actions and our prayers are all, every detail of them, involved in this vast building operation comprehensively known as the Kingdom of God. But we don’t build the foundation. The foundation is given. The foundation is firmly in place.”
“Jesus concluded his most famous teaching by telling us that there are two ways to go about our lives, we can build on sand or we can build on rock. No matter how wonderfully we build, if we build on sand, it will all fall to pieces like a house of cards. We build on what is already there, on the rock. Genesis is a verbal witness to that rock. God’s creative acts, God’s intervening and gracious judgements, God’s call to a life of faith, God’s making covenant with us.”
“But Genesis presents none of this to us, as an abstract, bloodless “truth” or “principle.” We are given a succession of stories with named people, people who loved and quarreled, believed and doubted, had children and married, experienced sin and grace. If we pay attention, we find we ourselves are living variations on these very stories. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and his sons, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Joseph and his brother.”
“The stories show clearly that we are never outsiders or spectators to anything in “heaven and earth.” God doesn’t work impersonally from space, he works with us where are, as he finds us. No matter what we do, whether good or bad, we continue to be part of everything God is doing. Nobody can drop out—there’s no place to drop out to. So, we may as well get started and take our place in the story—at the beginning.”
We humans get into messes that become overwhelming, too much for us to take, too much for us to “fix”. But for you, God of heaven and earth, nothing is impossible. You take our hearts and mend the brokenness, and save us by your grace. You give us solid footing on an immovable foundation so we can continue our growth process. Thank you, Lord. I trust in you for every detail of my life. I seek to “do well” in your eyes.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen