I don’t care how you handle it, if you had brothers or sisters, you had times when you wish you were an only child. I have two brothers and a sister and I love them very much, but I think we get along now because we don’t live in the same house. We aren’t in the backseat fighting over who gets to look out the window. We aren’t kicking each other under the table. I won’t go into detail, but sibling rivalry can get pretty bad.
Sibling rivalry is real. And because the Bible is based in reality, sibling rivalry is referred to a lot in Scripture.
There was conflict between Jacob and Esau – they fought ever since birth. Then there was Joseph and his brothers. His brothers were so jealous of him that they threw him in a pit and then sold him into slavery.
But the most famous story of sibling rivalry is the story of Cain and Abel. You can read their story in Genesis 4.
Here’s What We Know About Cain and Abel:
- Both Cain and Abel brought an offering to the Lord.
- God accepted Abel’s offering, but did not accept Cain’s.
- Cain’s reaction to God not accepting his offering is anger.
- God speaks to Cain and encourages him to do what is right and to avoid sin. Why? Because it is crouching at the door and desires to have him.
- Cain does not respond correctly to God’s instruction. Instead, he deceives his brother and murders him.
- God punishes Cain for his disobedience.
So, what are we supposed to learn from this story?
1 – Life’s primary question is Why.
God asked Cain 3 questions and made 2 statements. His first two questions were “WHY” questions. Your why is more important than your what. Until you know why you will always struggle with all the other questions. If you know your why you will have little difficulty finding how.
Let’s see if we can answer the questions given to Cain.
- Why is he angry? Because his sacrifice wasn’t accepted.
- Why is he sad? Because his sacrifice wasn’t accepted.
- if you do right, won’t you be accepted? Yes.
Evidently Cain’s offering wasn’t the right offering. He did what he thought was best. Burt his best wasn’t what God wanted. God wanted what was right. And Cain got mad.
The “WHY” questions gets right down the heart of every issue. Why do you go to school? Why do you want to get married? Why do you go to work? Why do you go to church? Why do you get so mad? Why do you get so sad? Why do you do what you do?
Let me see if I can show you the result of two answers. If your answer to WHY is yourself, you will end up like Cain – disappointed, angry, and sad. You will find yourself in a very lonely, isolated place. But if your WHY is for others, you will find yourself in a happy, contented place. If your WHY is for God, you will discover a peace that rises above all the problems of life. So let me ask you a question -WHY.
2 – Even When We Choose Wrong, God Gives Us Another Chance To Choose Right!
After God doesn’t accept Cain’s offering and Cain gets mad and his face becomes downcast, what does God tell him? Don’t be mad? Don’t be sad? No, God explains that the reason things didn’t go well for him didn’t have anything to do with God or his brother. It had everything to do with him. If he does what is right, God will accept Him.
Even after choosing evil, God gives Cain the opportunity to do what is right. The same is true with us. No matter what mistake we make, no matter how often we focus ourselves on ourselves, God always gives us the opportunity to turn to him for forgiveness and to choose to begin doing what is right.
But, in the same way, if we continue to choose wrong, sin is crouching at the door and that sin desires to have us. The power and tragic consequences of sin can master us if we leave the door open to temptation.
This is just the beginning of Cain’s problems. Look at what we find in this chapter.
- Greed—Cain keeps the best of his fruit and produce for himself.
- Jealousy—Cain is jealous that his offering is not accepted.
- Anger—Cain is so angry that it leads him to think and act irrationally and sinfully.
- Deception—He deceives his brother and lures him out into the field.
- Revenge—He wants revenge and to harm his brother for in his mind being the one that kept God from accepting his offering.
- Murder—Cain brutally murders his brother and lies to God about it when questioned.
In Cain, we see selfishness. He didn’t get what he wanted. He was mad and intended to do whatever it took to get even. He tricked his brother, lured him out into the field, and murdered him and then tried to cover it up, all because he was angry that he didn’t get what he wanted. This is the height of selfishness. This is a classic example of looking out for myself, putting myself and what I want first, no matter what it costs my brother. Selfish, selfish, selfish.
3 – When we are driven by anger, greed, and selfishness, we are capable of anything.
Me? Murder? We don’t like to hear that. We see stories on the news and think, “How could anyone do that? How could anyone stoop so low?” Do you know what we are really saying? We’re saying, “I am better than that. I could never do such a thing. It is beneath me.”
But anyone who allows sin to dominate their life is easy prey for the worst of decisions. Anger, greed and selfishness always lead to death. In fact, the wages of sin is death. Be careful that sin does not conquer you.
4 – God accepts us on the basis blood.
Why did God accept Abel’s offering and not Cain’s? It was because Abel’s offering included blood. He sacrificed an animal, therefore there was blood in the sacrifice, and Cain only gave some of his produce. Later on in the Bible, God required the Jews to sacrifice animals as a sign of their atonement for sins. The animal took their place. And the blood was a sign that the animal was dying in their place. We don’t do that anymore because later on Jesus died for our sins, once and for all, shedding his blood for us.
In 1 John 3:12 we discover that the Apostle John tells us that Abel was righteous, but Cain was evil. Why is that? Because Abel came with blood, but Cain came with the fruit of his hands. We must come to God through the blood.
So what does your anger reveal about you? Are you angry at God or someone else? Has life disappointed you? I hope you will do what is right before God and receive the peace He wants to give you. Receive Jesus as your eternal sacrifice.